This is a letter written by Abraham Lincoln to the Headmaster of the school his son was attending. The wishes and advice he shares are even more relevant today. Executives, professionals, crafts people, artists, teachers, parents, students, anyone and everyone would benefit from learning from and acting on this message.
He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just and are not true. But teach him if you can, the wonder of books, but also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hillside.
In school, teach him it is far more honorable to fall than to cheat.
Teach to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him he is wrong.
Teach him to be gentle with gentlepeople and tough with the tough.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone getting on the bandwagon.
Teach him to listen to all men; but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good that comes through.
Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tears.
Teach him to scoff at cynics and to be beware of too much sweetness. Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to highest bidders, but never to put a price on his heart and soul. Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and stand and fight if thinks he is right.
Treat him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel. Let him have the courage to be impatient. Let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will have faith in humankind.
This is a big order, but see what you can do. He is such a fine little fellow my son!
– Abraham Lincoln
My lessons from Lincoln:
- Be willing to fail
- Be curious
- Believe in yourself
- Be good to others and stand up to those who are not
- Be independent in thought and stand for that which is good
- Enjoy life and share your feelings rather than mask them
- Give of yourself, but do not give yourself away
- Have faith in and believe in the larger community
What a great curriculum for school and work. What would happen if we proactively spent more time on these issues? What could we accomplish?