• Stoicism: The endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.
Abraham Lincoln is relentlessly inspiring.
I’ve heard several versions of him, with regard to slavery, the war, and motivations for pursuing a united America at the time. There’s no clear way for us to be sure what his motivations were for sparking the civil war- if they were purely based on the notion that all men are created equal or in economics and access to railways and goods. One thing that has been consistent across these stories is Abe Lincoln’s calmness, sureness, and honesty in his leadership. Time & Time again I see it written that he was a man that understood his feelings and even in the deepest times of his despair he sought to help others. That’s star spangled awesome.
I always thought stoicism was about being stone-faced and cold, but it is in fact the opposite. It is being able to understand your emotions, the emotions of others, and sympathize with them while thinking rationally for yourself.

Ryan Holidays writes on Abe & stoic leaders in his book, The Obstacle Is the Way. Philotographer shared it with me. Holiday focuses on stoicism as a way of life & leadership in successfully overcoming challenges and doing it in a calm and effective manner. Holiday does a good job to cite so many stories and experiences of leaders: Andrew Jackson, George Washington, Marcus Aurelius and Abraham Lincoln to name a few.

It debunks many myths and almost presents the man as he is. 

Something of interest: George Washington was not big on fighting wars face up (head to head battle), definitely not the message the hicks understand…(else I doubt they’d be so damn HOO-RAH AMERICA F&* Yahh). We’re actually on the safer and more conservative/strategic side when it came to wars and battle. Studies of America in prominent wartime pre-WWII show that we were more likely to climb up steep mountain ranges and spend hours going around paths instead of through the valley, just so we could avoid a face-to-face attack. The numbers are steep. Something like 2% of the time we would attack head on. 98% of the time we were avoiding conflict. By doing this, George Washington saved the lives of many of his under trained troops and proclaimed victory in some important battles.

Surprising, right! The book is filled with similar insightful stories that quote history, figures, or data.

Back to good old Abe. Folks often write his gravity, humility, and character. I’ve seen it cited that he overcame depression, suicide, and tremendous pain, but his first priority was always seeking to the needs of others. That’s not just selflessness, that’s the type of spirit that Gandhi cited when he said, “Find yourself in service to others.”

There’s  something powerful about Abe Lincoln.

Read Ryan Holiday’s book. If you’re in NY, take my copy.

Who’s your favorite stoic? Thoughts on Stoicism?


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