Lincoln: Be yourself

Another thing I noted on watching Lincoln: the president was comfortable with himself, as unlikely his path to the presidency had been.

I loved the way Lincoln was confident enough to pull in a seemingly-random metaphor or tell a story, and not flinching even when it ended up falling flat or seeming irrelevant. His Secretary of War had no time for his stories, at one point walking out when he began one at a bad time. But he pretended not to notice and calmly told his story anyway.

I anticipate, in my second year in this role, I will begin to gain confidence to be myself and not try to emulate any other leaders. That’s been a difficulty for me, especially in the early months as the search process got serious. I was working in the Offices of the President of Wycliffe USA and had the opportunity to observe Bob Creson closely for two years. Frankly, I do a poor imitation of him. I also do a poor Lincoln, a poor Churchill, a poor Bill Hybels and a poor Andy Stanley. The best advice I ever got on this subject came from a Dove chocolate wrapper:

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

I think at times this year, I’ve pursued likability and political capital through a strategy of not offending anyone. Perhaps that was an appropriate strategy for my first year. My second year will require something different, however. The challenges ahead will require stronger vision, more resolve and deeper vulnerability. Love it or leave it, I’m going to be myself.
Read my series on Lincoln:

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