President Abraham Lincoln amazingly kept his former Republican rivals on his cabinet, an extraordinarily rare move of an American President. But what is utterly extraordinary was Lincoln’s reaction to a congressman’s report that Lincoln’s Secretary of War had not only defied a direct order from Lincoln but publicly called him a damned fool. Lincoln’s response? “If Stanton said I was a damned fool, then I must be one, for he is nearly always right, and generally says what he means. I will step over and see him.” Humility is that often times misunderstood leadership trait. The opposite of humility is “ego,” defined by the need to be right, which tends to interfere with the best solution because it eclipses others’ contributing ideas. What we need are more ego-less leaders like Lincoln. Referencing the psychological law of polarities, I see Lincoln’s response to Stanton as a great example of the power of humility. Amazing stuff.
[Source: The Intelligent Optimist, Volume 11, Issue 6, December, 2013]