Abraham Lincoln | 7 Character Qualities + 3 Ways To Achieve Them For Your Life | From Americas Most Influential President
Abraham Lincoln’s serves as the cornerstone example of morality and character perhaps more than any other person in the history of the world excluding religious figures. A man of great accomplishments who was not simply born with these character qualities, but more a man who practiced them daily, as should we. Lincoln wasn’t perfect, made mistakes, and had many of the same flaws we all share. Learning from his mistakes and finding alternatives in places he came up short.
I loved him not because he was perfect but because he was not yet triumphed ~W.E.B. DuBois said in 1922 regarding Lincoln
To his core, Lincoln believed everyone deserved equal treatment. By both consistent effort and practice, Lincoln treated others with humility, honesty, justice, grace, and courage.
Application For Today
People in his lifetime were fascinated by him. His life example provides us with very powerful lessons:
- Honesty in all dealings
- Having a never ending quest to learn
- Facing fears and overcoming defeats
- Having kindness, compassion, and respect for others
- Standing up for and firm in what is believed to be right
- A willingness to work hard
These lessons can and must be consistently taught and developed in every aspect of the young and old, government, education, business, and our society.
7 Character Qualities of Abraham Lincoln
As defined, honesty is working to deal with people and situations both fairly and in truth. Lincoln had a reputation as being an honest lawyer who gave advice to lawyers younger than him. He made sure to pay off any personal debt. His integrity was trusted enough that those he made friends with ended up being the same people who helped him during his presidential campaign.
Resolve to be honest in all events
-Abraham Lincoln, lecture notes, July 1, 1850
As defined, expressing concern and attempting to understand the feelings of others. He spoke from the heart to the residents of Springfield, his residence, before leaving for Washington for the presidency. He listened to the mothers of soldiers who were pleading for him to spare their sons lives and took the time to think deeply regarding those sentenced for death. His pure anguish over those who perished in the Civil War while having an understanding of the Southern peoples mindset so much so that he reasoned that if he lived in the south he may himself had been a slave owner unfortunately. In his visits to Confederate hospitals he was known to hang out with ease.
Both read the same bible, pray to the same God, each invokes his aid against the other…let us judge not that we be not judged
-Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865
As defined, working for the betterment of others, in the interest of others over self. He was able to admit to general Grant that he was wrong even when he was president. The non existence of desire to think of himself higher than people such as the local barber and Frederick Douglas. Never elevating himself around people from various walks of life whom he willingly invited to the White House.
I do not impugn the motives of any one opposed to me. It is no pleasure to me to triumph over any one
-Abraham Lincoln, speech after re-election, November 8, 1864
As defined, being polite and having respect for others even with those whom you disagree. He willingly apologized to those he offended and those his did him the same. Writing angry letters to people who insulted him but never sent them. Dealt with his subordinates who disrespected him with respect and without holding a grudge.
Be careful to give no offense, and keel cool under all circumstances
-Lincoln to Mary Delahay, May 12, 1860
As defined, showing courage and determination in the face of defeats and loss. People made fun of his clothes, dialect, and lack of money, among other things, yet he refused to let it get him down. He sheer fortitude in overcoming the death of his mother, sister, friend (Ann Rutledge), and even his two sons.
This to shall pass away, Never fear
-Abraham Lincoln to his friend Norman Judd following his senate race loss, 1858
As defined, continually learning all one can about the world around us. Throughout his life he had a desire to read as much as possible about as many different topics as possible. He is the only president to earn a patent. To become a better president, he even checked out books on war strategy to improve himself.
He regrets his want for education, and does what he can to supply the want
-Abraham Lincoln, reflecting on his childhood, 1860
As defined, being governed by a firm set of principles & attainable ideas about the future. He believed the everyone had the “right to rise” despite his poor background. The view that the Civil War was being fought for a much bigger aim helped carry the country through the war by telling people to never forget the big picture behind that vision.
The leading object of government is, to elevate the condition of men-to lift artificial wrights from all shoulders-to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all-to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life
-Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress, July 4, 1861
Having a high level of personal morality and character doesn’t happen overnight for any of us and neither did it for Abraham Lincoln. Anything of value takes time and is often difficult at its start.
3 Ways to develop Morality & Character
- Decide to commit all your energy to the life long and consistent pursuit of daily development of self.
- Develop a detailed plan with trackable and easily attainable micro goals in route to achieving a superior level of morality and character.
- Be resilient in your pursuit by never allowing negative thinking, the opinions of others, procrastination, failure, or any other characteristics, that creates a chance for holding you back or slowing you down on your path to achievement.
Abraham Lincolns life was full of heartache and triumph. Life is full of the exact same and it is the approach we take and the commitments we make that often start us off on our quest to be the best we can be. Begin by taking one small step ahead, toward your goals for a higher level of morality and character, one day at a time. You can do it!
Feel free to email or message me your questions or thoughts as well as any further information and resources your interested in on this topic.
Bonus: 10 Traits learned from Abraham Lincoln from his Leadership
- Listen to different points of view
- Learn from mistakes and be aware of weaknesses
- Share credit for success and praise others
- Accept blame for mistakes of those under your leadership
- Lead with humility in service to others
- Don’t let resentment grow, or allow hurt lead you toward revenge
- Defuse tense situations with storytelling or being lighthearted
- Connect and know the people you lead personally
- Have the courage and resolve to stick to your core principles and a clear vision
- Communicate goals and values to others to create understanding understandingunwiling
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