Lincoln on Preparation

Quote Quiz

The 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, is widely regarded as one of the best leaders in the nation’s history. Lincoln led the country at a time of great political division resulting in Civil War until days after the war had ended. Lincoln had put in place a structured reunification of the North and the South starting with the night the treaty was signed.

Despite his well-known decisions regarding the execution of the war, the end to slavery and how the country would become one again Lincoln was known to spend a tremendous amount of time in preparation. In explaining why rash decisions and actions were ill-advised.

Lincoln explained it this way: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will _____,”

1. “Spend the first four sharpening the ax.”

2. “Begin by preparing a detailed plan.”

3. “Get it done in just two hours.”

3. “First study to see where it is best for the tree to fall.”

Scroll down for the correct ending to Lincoln’s quote.

Abraham Lincoln was very astute in pointing out the need for preparation. This is not to say that springing into immediate action is not sometimes required. If the building is on fire you want the firefighters to spring into immediate action to start distinguishing the fire. But remember, the best firefighters are the ones who did the preparation in advance of the actual blaze.

This is especially important in developing a business strategy. Failure to do a full SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis can be detrimental to launching a new program, policy or procedure.

Winston Churchill, although not known as an orator, spend as much as 40 hours preparing for a one-hour speech because he knew that once the audience (consumer) receive the product (his speech) it would be very difficult to change public opinion or acceptance.

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