Lessons from the Confederacy
I finally did it...I got away for a few days to relax. My lovely girlfriend and I went down to Virginia to visit a college friend of hers (Go Hokies!) right outside of Blacksburg, Virginia. I was looking forward to this trip and didn't put much thought into how lifestyles differ a few hours South of the Mason Dixon Line. But... after seeing references to Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, driving past 5-6 clusters of the three crosses pictured to the left, and seeing a few "Kiss my Rebel Ass" bumper stickers, I knew I was heading into a different place then what we have here in the Lehigh Valley.
Now, I had to occupy my time on the ride down there so I begun looking up things involving the three crosses. Apparently there are over 1800 of these throughout the world. I have never seen them before until this trip. I then begun looking into the Confederacy, how and when it started. I read something that amazed me: seven states seceded from the Union when Abraham Lincoln was elected President. Talk about dealing with adversity in a high profile job. This wouldn't be the first, or last, major dealing he dealt with throughout his life.
Good ol' Honest Abe. He was a self-educated man who is believed to only have one year of formal schooling. How does a man with only one year of schooling become one of the greatest leaders of our country? He did it with communication. He is believed to be one of the greatest communicators of all-time. He spent his life focusing on ways to become a better speaker. A more eloquent writer. A great debater, a humorist and also on becoming a tremendous conversationalist. But like most humans, he had flaws. He had a temper that early in life, led him to express emotion and lash out in debates and make things personal with his opponent. But as he aged, he begun to show great discipline. His anger occasionally consumed him, but he found better ways to outlet the negativity. He wrote angry letters to critics, generals, and whoever else pissed him off but chose to never mail them. It was his way of letting off steam. This discipline was the true character of his presidency. Lastly, Lincoln held true to his beliefs. He chose to do something that led to tons of criticism. He was elected because of his position on slavery. But the amendment to abolish slavery needed a Civil War and five years to come to fruition. Many lives were lost because of this decision. Lincoln felt it necessary. He felt it necessary because it is what he thought needed to be done to make America a better place, long after his presidency concluded.
These qualities are still what makes a leader great. For one, communication is huge. If you're not a great communicator then make an effort to improve. It can be done, trust me. The next lesson is self-discipline. No matter what happens, you may want to express your mind, call of from work, miss an assignment, etc., but it is self-discipline that is going to separate you from the rest. Everyone has those feelings. The great ones push through. And most important, if you are in a leadership position, strive to be a Level 5 Leader. In Good to Great, Jim Collins defines Level 5 Leadership as: "Self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy- these leaders are paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will". Also, a Level 5 Leader is one who strives to the team, organization, business, or country in better hands when he exits. Lincoln displayed all of these qualities (in my opinion anyway)! So a relaxing trip to the South taught some great lessons on leadership!
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