Abraham Lincoln’s Success Secrets

                Next week, on February 12, we remember the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.


                Abe Lincoln was born poor on the raw American frontier in 1809. Yet he rose out of poverty and overcame many obstacles to achieve his destiny as one of the greatest American Presidents. He is a shining example of how an ordinary person can achieve his or her destiny, and is our role model at Emancipation Network.          


Like many of us, his first efforts to rise out of poverty ended in failure. But he believed, as Winston Churchill said, “Failure is never final.” He did not run away, even when some of his property was seized by his creditors. Instead, he switched careers, educating himself to become a lawyer. His early experiences in overcoming failure taught him well as he entered politics. He endured setbacks in 1848 when he was not selected to run for a second term in Congress, in 1856 when the New Republican party passed over him, and in 1858 when he lost his Senate race, but he never quit and was elected president in 1860. You should never quit either.


                The failure of his business left him with a debt about the size of a small home loan in modern dollars. Lincoln decided to repay the debt, but he also knew that he could not let the debt destroy his destiny. Five years after the failure, in 1842, he married, and two years later, in 1844, he bought a house mostly with cash, yet we know that he still owed the debt in 1848. We also know that he eventually paid the debt, earning the name “Honest Abe”. To achieve his destiny, he built his life before he paid his debt. You should do the same.


                Lincoln knew that he would need a strong financial base to achieve his destiny, so he began saving money. Like many of us his first big investment was his home, purchased with his savings and some debt in 1844. He had learned the proper use of debt, as leverage for the purchase of necessary assets. As his legal career advanced he worked for railroads and used his knowledge to invest in their bonds. By saving, judiciously using debt, and investing in what he knew, he did not become rich but he had enough to fund his destiny in politics. You too can have enough to achieve your destiny if you follow his example. 


His experience with the bondages of debt left him with a strong sense of compassion for those in bondage. In 1842, after the U.S. passed its first bankruptcy laws, he became a bankruptcy lawyer. As a person familiar with the Bible, he would have understood that God invented bankruptcy (See Deuteronomy 15:1-18 and Nehemiah 5:1-13). He also understood that God provided freedom from slavery in the same way, and he eventually ended the sin of slavery in America. It was not what he made of himself that made him great, it was what he gave back. Giving is the ultimate success secret.  


So remember Abe Lincoln and follow in his footprints to reach your destiny.


And, to quote Winston Churchill again, “Never Quit”.       

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