Lessons from Lincoln

David Byrd : Byrd's Eye View
David Byrd
Chief Marketing Officer for ANPI

Lessons from Lincoln

ANPI is based in Springfield, Illinois where the Lincoln Presidential Library is located. I haven’t had time to visit the library as yet, but I did watch the recently released film, Lincoln. Without a doubt, Abraham Lincoln deserves the recognition as America’s best president. However, in watching the movie, you learn that the phrase “Honest Abe” may not have been an apt moniker.

The film covers just a few months of Lincoln’s presidency focusing on his efforts to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which would abolish slavery in the United States. The movie portrays Lincoln as man dedicated to passing the amendment prior to ending the War Between the States or Civil War. Differing opinions regarding the passage of the amendment are centered on “equality” for all men or “ending” the war. A majority view is that the amendment will fail if the war ends prior to its passage, as many believe that abolishing slavery will assist in ending the war. However, interest wanes in amendment if the war is over. Therefore, Lincoln faces a moral conflict, end the war and save many lives or eliminate a practice that diminishes the greatness of this nation. He chooses the latter. To achieve this he obfuscates, arm-twists, bribes and, in general, conducts what many of us view as politics as usual. We forgive him because we assess the abolition of slavery as the greater good.

So how does this play in the business world? In short it doesn’t. It is very important for us to conduct ourselves in a professional manner with the highest level of integrity at all times. This is important in building trust with employees, partners and customers. There are challenges to always operating in an ethical fashion but the rewards normally exceed the effort.

The reality is that politics is different from business and the politically astute do not necessarily do well at business or vice versa. However, there were interesting observations I took away from this page in Lincoln’s life clearly worth emulating; develop a moral consciousness that can be applied to your life and those around you; maintain the importance of family and commitment during good times and bad; and surround yourself with the most talented people available encouraging them to perform at their best.

I strongly recommend seeing “Lincoln” the movie. It will add to your understanding of the man and reinforce why he is considered our greatest president. In fact, I am anxious to tour his library while visiting ANPI’s corporate office in Springfield. We can always learn from greatness and should take every opportunity to do so.

 

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