Leading Blog






02.11.09

Lincoln’s Lessons: Endure Unjust Criticism

Endure Unjust Criticism

Lincolns Lessons
Donald Phillips writes that, “Abraham Lincoln was slandered, libeled, and hated perhaps more intensely than any other man to ever run for the nation’s highest office….He was publicly called just about every name imaginable by the press of the day, including grotesque baboon, a third-rate country lawyer who once split rails and now splits the Union, a coarse vulgar joker, a dictator, an ape, a buffoon, and others.” As his presidency went on, the criticism against him increased. Yet he accepted these insults with dignity and the self-confidence that comes from knowing yourself.

Most of the time, Lincoln ignored criticism. He knew it would come. It had always been so. He wrote, “Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good.” Only when he deemed it important enough to make a difference, did he engage the attack and offer a rebuttal and defend himself. But always, he kept a good sense of humor. He chose not to brood over unjust criticism. He advised, “Jealousy and suspicion never did help any man in any situation. There may sometimes be ungenerous attempts to keep a young man down, and they will succeed, too, if he allows his mind to be diverted from its true channel to brood over the attempted injury. Cast about, and see if this feeling had not injured every person you have known to fall into it.”

Lincoln avoided quarrelling, resentments and malice. He tried to exhibit patience and grace. Possessed with a sense of purpose greater than himself, he was able to look past petty concerns. In a letter to Cuthbert Bullitt he wrote, “I shall do nothing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malice dealing.”

Any leader will be criticized. How you handle it will determine whether or not you succeed or fail. In the Old Testament, God corrected Balaam through the mouth of a … uh … donkey. Any of us might be edified in the same way. It is best to endure criticism, learn what you can, and move on in spite of it.
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Of Related Interest:
  Quarrel Not At All: The Stuff of Command
  Get Out or Get In Line by Elbert Hubbard in Foundations Magazine
  Abraham Lincoln Was Born 200 Years Ago Today
  Lincoln’s Lessons: Humor Communicates Like Nothing Else
  Lincoln’s Lessons: Listen To and Value Others
  Abraham Lincoln and His Times

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:57 AM
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