Happy President’s Day!
President’s Day was first declared a federal holiday to commemorate America’s first president, although now it is now an occasion to honor all American presidents. Today we would like to honor one of the most influential and arguably one of the greatest presidents of American history—Abraham Lincoln.
Coming from humble origins as the son of a poor farmer, Abraham Lincoln rose in society in a way few have ever seen before. In this journey, he has exemplified many traits as an entrepreneurial leader, leaving behind valuable lessons for small business entrepreneurs.
“Things may come to those who wait. But only the things left by those who hustle”
Perhaps one of the greatest characteristics attributed to President Lincoln is perseverance. Lincoln climbed the social ladder to cultural and political prominence by educating himself and eventually becoming a lawyer. Entrepreneurs are often in tough situations but it’s important to remember that perseverance is the only way forward.
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.”
His presidency was marked by a time of great political conflict. His election prompted the seven southern slave states to form the Confederate States of America before Lincoln even moved into the White House. In this political turmoil, he was surrounded by people with strong opinions who attempted to sway his every action and decision. Abraham Lincoln is revered for knowing when to walk away from a Cabinet meeting, making a firm decision, and not wavering in his decision. He focused on a single goal of ending and abolishing slavery, and all his decisions revolved around that goal. This applies to entrepreneurs as well—insist on succeeding, set goals, and pursue those goals fiercely.
Diversity of thought, Diversity of temperament
During his presidency, Lincoln surrounded himself with people who disagreed with him, and was not afraid to question his authority and argue with his decisions. A prime example is Salmon Chase, Lincoln’s rival who desperately wanted to become president and was constantly undermining Lincoln with his cabinet members. Lincoln appointed him as treasury secretary and evaluated him only on his job. Lincoln also surrounded himself with people who had different temperaments than him. While Lincoln was often too kind and too open. His secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, was the very opposite—very austere and secretive. Their opposite temperaments balanced each other out for the better. As entrepreneurs, it is critical to have people who will provide constructive criticism and helpful advice. It is even more important to constantly connect with a community of entrepreneurs.
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
Abraham Lincoln was known as a tremendous story teller and entertainer, well-liked and well-loved by his friends and his country. One of Lincoln’s rivals, William Seward, after serving on Lincoln’s cabinet later wrote to his wife that Lincoln was an extraordinary man. Likewise, the rest of his cabinet also came to respect Abraham Lincoln as a tremendous man. It’s important to be amicable since the bread and butter of entrepreneurs is partnerships and deal-making.
Not only did Abraham Lincoln influence a crucial point in American history, he also left behind a legacy of leadership skills entrepreneurs today can learn from. Perseverance, decision-making, community, and affability—there is always room for improvement, and room to grow. Happy President’s Day and thank you, President Lincoln.
- Jenny Lee, Nasha Lending Intern