Monday Motivation: Step Outside Yourself

thelincolnsIn my ongoing quest to replace my sports talk radio intake with something a bit more educational, I have been listening to the book, Team Of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I’m not totally done with the book so don’t spoil it for me!

Just this morning, I listened to a portion of the book that profoundly struck me.  During Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and as the Civil War raged on, his son, Willy, became sick with typhoid fever.  He eventually died from the illness, sending both Abraham and Mary Lincoln into a deep depression.  As a parent, I can’t even begin to empathize with what it would be like to lose a child.

Kearns spends a good bit of time talking about how elegant and well cultured Mary Lincoln was.  She threw some amazing parties at the White House in her day, and in many ways probably kept her husband sane and grounded during an extremely difficult time in our nation’s history.  When her son died, much of this understandably became difficult for her.

The part of the story that really stood out to me was that after some time, Mary Lincoln began spending a few hours a day at a hospital, working with those who were wounded in battle.  She would help care for them, read to them, and even help write letters to their families.  Even more amazingly, she generally kept a very low profile when doing so.  The act of kindness and service was more about caring for others than about gaining positive PR for herself.

In light of Jenny recent post about Pushing Kindness, I’m amazed at the way Mary Lincoln actually used the act of caring for others to help heal from the terrible tragedy of losing her son.  Furthermore, she did so without drawing attention to herself.  What a wonderful example of kindness.  When is the last time you stepped outside of yourself in order to be kind to someone else?

Anyway, for whatever reason, I thought Mary Lincoln wasn’t a kind person.  I think perhaps it was this Geico commercial, which on a lighter note, is hilarious!


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  • Glad you’re enjoying that book. I really enjoyed it too.

    • I’m glad to hear you’ve read the book, Jeff! I’m also fascinated by Lincoln’s leadership. Just a great book.

  • Congrats on the read. Stepping out of your zone is not an easy thing to do. Replacing habits can be challenging. Life’s experiences can harden us. Similar to Mary Lincoln we need to allow our losses to help us teach others lessons about living. Turn a weakness into a strength and you will master and control your fears as well. Great post Jeremy. Xo

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