I recently met a man who makes his living as an actor/speaker strictly portraying the life of Abraham Lincoln. I thought this was a very narrow niche, but when he was sharing his story at a reception, he said that there are 140 men who are “professional Lincolns”, and that 80 of them met at Gettysburg during the sesquicentennial celebration there!

I wonder what Abe himself would think if he knew that seven score of men tour the country impersonating him, 150 years after he died. Would he have done things differently or changed his messages if he knew they would be repeated over a century later?

While the chances are infinitesimal that anyone will overtly replicate your appearance and speeches a century later, the odds are high that things you say will be taken to heart and influence others in a much shorter time frame. Children will imitate your values. Employees will replicate where you set the bar for your work. Colleagues will follow your lead on how you treat others. Friends will take your candid feedback to heart. Family members will model how you manage your anger.

Lincoln said: “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.” In other words: “Lead your life like you are going to have someone portray you.” It’s good advice for you in the present, and has served Lincoln well throughout the ages. 

— beth triplett

Danny Russel as Abraham Lincoln

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