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Lincoln the Unknown

Lincoln The Unkown by Dale Carnegie
Dale Carnegie
Recommended by: Grace Link, Executive Director, Missouri Veterans Commission

What is your suggestion about?

Lincoln the Unknown is not about Abraham Lincoln’s political activities. Rather this short biography explores the personal side of his career – his sorrows, his repeated failures, his poverty, his great love for Ann Rutledge, and his tragic marriage to Mary Todd. It is a story of the hardships that made Lincoln the man he was.

Why did you choose it?

I chose this book because I admire Abraham Lincoln’s humble and effective leadership. This book inspires by describing how Abraham Lincoln experienced hardships throughout his entire life and how he handled himself through these storms.

Abraham Lincoln confronted challenges from his birth to his death. His origins were humble. At 22, Nancy Hanks, who had no schooling at all, married Thomas Lincoln, one of the most illiterate and lowly men in all Kentucky. Thomas Lincoln made a meager living as a day-laborer and deer hunter and was also a drifter. Abraham was born in 1809 in a log cabin in Kentucky. His mom died when Abraham was only 9 years old. Young Abraham was raised in the woods and endured years of terrible poverty and hardships on the frontier. 

Abraham Lincoln had a deep desire to read and learn. He started reading his Bible at a very young age and never stopped, especially throughout his presidency. He was also a gifted writer and speaker. He had a heart of gold and cared deeply for his fellow human being. 

A humble servant of the people, Abraham Lincoln, did his best every day in spite of his circumstances. He stayed focused on the mission and never tired of doing the right thing even when he was standing alone in his decisions. Although he eventually rose to the presidency, he never became proud and never thought of himself as higher than anyone else.

What else do you want to tell us about it?

The book is written by Dale Carnegie, a great Missourian born in Maryville in 1888. An American writer and lecturer, Dale Carnegie developed outstanding courses in self-improvement, public speaking, and interpersonal skills that are still taught today. Carnegie’s perspective in Abraham Lincoln is outstanding: he explores Lincoln’s interpersonal skills and leadership traits all in a very easy read.

What is a key takeaway for leaders driving improvement in how we deliver for the citizens of Missouri?

The story of Abraham Lincoln teaches basic lessons of leadership, whatever your organization, whatever your role. Stay humble regardless of your position. Leadership is about responsibility to do right by people. Being a leader is not about you; it is about your team and helping them do their best. We owe our employees the best leadership we can provide to help them succeed. We also owe full transparency and accountability to the people of Missouri for our actions and the use of our hard-earned resources. So, stay focused on the mission and do the right thing no matter what is going on around you or how unpopular your decisions may be. It is not easy, but the citizens of Missouri deserve our very best!

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