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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday – December 4th, 2020 The Lessons of Lincoln

“The struggle of to-day is not altogether for to-day, it is for a vast future also.” – Abraham Lincoln, December 3rd, 1861

It is the first Gratitude Friday of December, and I awoke with the lessons of leadership in a house divided and the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. He won the Presidency by being the unobjectionable second choice of all Republican factions at the Chicago convention of 1860. He delivered his first State of the Union Address on December 3rd, 1861, 159 years ago yesterday. You can read the full text HERE. They were grim, dark days in America, and he knew that he had a very tough job ahead to lead the nation out of darkness and division. He knew that it would take every bit of his ability to hold the nation together while it engaged in war against itself.

There are parallels to our times for many reasons that are unmistakable, yet it is also true that I awoke this morning thinking of his leadership style for reasons related to bias against persons in recovery that will not be readily apparent to those outside of the recovery community. The growing sense is that we are being patronized and not included in matters that impact us. We are seen as inferior and included only when it fits plans in in-group agendas. This mentality will be seen as on the wrong side of history. Yet, it is not even visible to the majority of those who hold it. Such is the deep implicit bias of out-group derogation.

Lincoln was a self-educated man. It was perhaps his lived experience out in the wilds that taught him the things needed to lead that could not be known by those bred for that role. He was not an elitist who went to the finest schools or raised within the accepted pedigree of the day. As we all know he grew up in a log cabin and read books by the light of a candle. Upon becoming President, he assembled a team of rivals. What an example.

The deep wisdom of this man to listen as a fundamental tenet and responsibility of leadership.

History and the examples of Lincoln show us that true leadership involves deep listening and meaningful inclusion. To create a more perfect union, we must assemble, listen to and including in meaningful ways those impacted communities in decision-making processes. It is a lesson worth listening to for so very many reasons in the crossroads we find ourselves in right now in our times.

This gratitude Friday, I am grateful for the lessons of leadership left to us by Lincoln. Many historians rank him as our greatest President. His examples can be illustrative of pathways forward on so very many levels.

We need such examples to guide us through the dark days we are in at this crossroads in history.

What are you grateful for today?

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