One of the remarkable things about President Lincoln was his willingness to embrace the ideas of his rivals. His commitment and genius was artfully illustrated in the book “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
I listened to this book on audio in my car. It’s a long book (944 pages) and yet so engaging that sometimes I’d be sitting in the car out in front of my house listening. Once in a while my husband would come out and ask “are you going to come in anytime soon?” The book postulates that Lincoln won the presidency because he possessed the extraordinary ability of empathy; to put himself in another person’s shoes, to feel what they were feeling and to understand their motives and desires.
He was committed to having the best person for the job in his cabinet and regardless of whether they considered themselves his rival. Lincoln won their respect and collaboration through his capacity to listen, build consensus, through his wisdom and his wit.
Lincoln lead our country through the American Civil War one of the greatest moral, constitutional and political crisis of our nation. Today as we face significant health, political and economic challenges, the ability to put ourselves in another shoes, to understand what’s motivating them and what their needs and hopes are is of the upmost importance.
If we can manage to do that, to stop, notice when we’re defending our point of view and let that go, there’s a good chance consensus and work-ability can emerge. On this day of honoring our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, I give thanks for the role modeling and courage of this man’s leadership and love of this country.