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What Freelancers Can Learn from Abraham Lincoln

February 26th, 2013 by

Lincoln Memorial

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States and some may argue that he was the greatest President to ever serve his country. He is best known for passing the 13th Amendment, effectively abolishing slavery in the union. While most of us will never have the same level of profound impact on the civilized world as Lincoln did, there are many great lessons that we can learn from the late 19th century President.

That includes us freelancers too.

Yes, running a country is not at all the same as running a small business. Yes, we may not always agree with their political viewpoints. Even so, there are many great things that we can learn from great men like Barack Obama and President Lincoln.

Be Honest

There is a reason why Lincoln earned the nickname of “Honest Abe.” He told the truth. As a freelancer, you may be tempted to “bend” the truth in order to attract or retain your clients, but this can ultimately hurt you in the long run. On the other hand, if you develop a reputation where people respect you and recognize the integrity of your character, then they are more likely to trust you. And client trust will always be one of the most important factors in your freelance success.

Tell Compelling Stories

The natural connection here is if you are a freelance writer, both for fiction and non-fiction. When you tell compelling stories, you draw your audience in and they are engaged with your words. They remember you. They tell their friends and colleagues about you. The exact same thing can apply to all sorts of different freelancers. Photographers tell stories through their pictures. Video, unsurprisingly, is a great medium for telling stories too. At the end of the day, stories are how you are going to connect with the people around you.

Work with the Opposition

The 13th Amendment was not passed solely by Abraham Lincoln. His party’s support wasn’t enough to push the bill through Congress, so he had to get his team and his cabinet to work closely with select Democrats if they wanted to secure enough votes. As a freelancer, while you may see other freelancers as your competition, they are also your allies. You can support one another’s causes and efforts for your mutual benefit. You can complement one another’s skills and talents, creating a bigger pie rather than simply trying to carve out a bigger slice for yourself.

Do What’s Right (Even When It’s Hard)

Life is difficult, as it should be, but that doesn’t mean that you should be cutting corners and compromising your morals in order to accomplish what it is that you want to accomplish. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean that you should give up either. It goes without saying that Lincoln faced a lot of opposition during the Civil War and during his fight to pass the 13th Amendment, but he trudged on.

In the day-to-day dealings of your freelance business, you’re going to face your share of challenges too, but you have to persevere if you want to succeed. Fight the good fight and do it for all the right reasons.

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3 Responses to “What Freelancers Can Learn from Abraham Lincoln”

  1. Ray Ebersole says:

    You know your description sounds like a few other people in our history. Ray Kroc and Sam Walton are just two that come to mind.

  2. Jim says:

    I don’t know how accurate the film “Lincoln” was, but if it is accurate, then I’m not sure working with the opposition in the same way that Lincoln’s administration did is a good idea. Of course, it doesn’t detract from the general statement you’re making that working with others for the betterment of both parties is a great way to succeed.

  3. [...] strategies for maintaining a healthy life-work balance when working from home. I recently wrote on what freelancers can learn from Abraham Lincoln, for example. There are also posts about finances and money management, as well as grammar tips, [...]

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