A Leadership Lesson from Lincoln

As we celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birthday this week, this quote from his Annual Message to Congress -- Concluding Remarks, (Washington, D.C. - December 1, 1862) struck me as particularly fitting for our times:

"It is not "can any of us imagine better?" but, "can we all do better? The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

Yes we all can imagine better - but can well all do better? Disenthrall ourselves? Sounds so difficult, unpleasant, even painful. Yet as necessary now as it was when Lincoln was President. What's old is new again. As is the realization that great leadership demands both mental toughness and the willingness to bear the requisite discomfort for the changes so needed. Lincoln knew it and had the courage to live by his conviction. Do we?