Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips, is the best book I have read on leadership in a long time. It was written in 1992, but is far from dated. If you are a team captain, or dream of becoming a leader in college, the example of Abraham Lincoln will further your growth.
We look around today and wonder at the divisions of the nation, but this President served his entire term over what he rightly called “a house divided.” Teams are never without conflict. I have been coaching for twenty one years and there has been no team where every player, parent and coach was totally on board all season. I was surprised to learn early in coaching, even when we were winning, not everybody was happy. Conflicts and disagreements are part of sports, and life.
How do you become a great leader? A great team mate? The following quote by Horace Greely, a journalist of the time and frequent critic, offers hints of how Lincoln fostered leadership in himself. Leadership that even his critics admired.
“He was not born a king of men…but a child of the common people,
who made himself a great persuader, therefore a leader,
by dint of firm resolve, patient effort and dogged perseverance.”
How do you become a great team leader? Learn to be a great persuader. You won’t finish tonight, or even next year. Make up your mind and work at it doggedly through high school, college and your career. The phrase patient effort implies it is no easy task. Complaining, half-hearted, last place, whiners will never be leaders.
“He slowly won his way to eminence and fame by doing the work
that lay next to him – doing it with all his growing might –
doing it as well as he could, and learning by his failure,
when failure was encountered, how to do it better…”
What work lays next to you? What are your fitness goals for the summer? Are you working at them with all your might? Like a muscle, the might of the will is strengthened every time you make hard choices. How do you respond to failure? Failure is your opportunity. Great leaders are always at work, and always learning how to do it better.
“He was open to all impressions and influences,
and gladly profited by the teachings of events and circumstances,
no matter how adverse or unwelcome.”
A leader takes life’s lessons, good and bad and uses them for personal improvement. It’s that whole lemons, lemonade thing.
“There was probably no year of his life when he was not a wiser, cooler,
and better man than he had been the year preceding.”