Happy President’s Day! Are you one of the lucky ones who is celebrating a three day weekend as we take a moment to honor America’s presidents? My family is actually enjoying a four day weekend – and we are loving every minute of it. Not only did we get two enjoy two extra sleep-in mornings, but the weather has been downright fabulous here – like 70 degrees fabulous! – so we’ve actually spent much of our time outside this weekend. And I am loving this spring preview!
In honor of President’s Day today I knew I wanted to borrow a quote from one of our country’s Presidents for my weekly dose of Monday Motivation, only I wasn’t sure which President or which quote I was going to select. I mean, we have had a lot of terrific presidents over the years, and many of them have offered some incredible words of wisdom (that may or not may have actually been written by them, but for which they are credited), so there is a lot of content to choose from. However, while I was doing my research for this post (yes, I am a geek like that), the answer became abundantly clear to me.
And so I have selected this quote by one of our most famous President’s, our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln:
I have always admired Lincoln – from very humble beginnings he rose up to become one of the most celebrated Americans of all time. Although his formal schooling was limited to three brief stints as a young boy because his family needed him to work, he eventually becoming a self-taught lawyer, legislator and then, almost shockingly, President of the United States. But none of this came easy for him. He was an unpopular state legislature, lost two Senate races, and once elected President faced the secession of several southern states before he was even inaugurated. Less than a month later the Civil War began and Lincoln faced the potential downfall of the nation under his watch. But Lincoln remained true to his convictions. Although sometimes criticized for suspending civil liberties, he believed a temporary suspension was necessary to preserve the nation – which was his primary goal. In 1863 he issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all southern slaves. And he proved himself to by a capable wartime leader, despite an utter lack of experience with the military, by surrounding himself with smart military strategists. We all know that Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, just days after the Confederacy surrendered, and as such has become a martyr for his convictions.
Lincoln is the epitome of determination, perseverance, and tenacity. His life demonstrates that not only did he talk the talk, but he walked the walk. The quote I selected comes from an encouraging letter he wrote to a wanna-be lawyer seeking his assistance in reading the law. Lincoln explains that although he could not help the man with his studies, the man would surely succeed in his endeavor because he has already decided that he wanted to become a lawyer. Lincoln writes: “If you are resolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is more than half done already.”
I think this is an important message for all of us to remember. Notice that Lincoln does not say that the man’s determination to become a lawyer ensures that it will happen – becoming a lawyer, like any other important goal that we may have, requires not just desire and determination, but also dedication, discipline and hard work. But it is the commitment to achieve the goal that provides the motivation necessary to continue with its pursuit even when the going gets tough.
And that is why the “resolution to succeed” is so important. No matter where we set our sights, which goal we want to achieve, what we set out to accomplish – the first step to achieving that goal is an honest determination and dedication to make it happen. There will no doubt be setbacks, challenges, times when it feels the goal is impossible or unattainable, and during those times our resolve to succeed will be tested. But if that resolve is strong, if we are truly committed to achieving our goal, then that determination can carry us through the tough times and keep us moving in the right direction.