When Abraham Lincoln found out that he had been elected President, he rejoiced for only a very short period of time. Yes, his ambition had been satisfied, but at a time that would try anyone’s soul. The battles that Lincoln faced were numerous. To just name a few, Lincoln had to deal with:
• Appeasing his new Republican Party, which itself was split on key issues, including whether slavery should be abolished or simply not allowed to extend to new territories
• Appeasing all of the people who had helped him win, including key political figures from Pennsylvania, whom other members of his proposed cabinet disliked a great deal
• Appeasing the Democrats, whom he knew he would have to work with
• And of course, trying to keep the United States united.
It would have been easy, so easy, for Lincoln to choose just one of those huge issues and dedicate all of his time to it, leaving the other issues simmering in the pot. He could certainly have made a strong case for it. He could have told men like Seward and Chase, “Look guys, I don’t know if you noticed, but our country is coming apart. Could you maybe get past your own selves here?”
But, there is no record of any such statement. Lincoln dealt with all of these issues and more simultaneously because he had one supreme and over-arching goal in mind – protect his people and their union.
What battles are you fighting?
In our own lives, we have distractions aplenty too, although they might not be at the same level of significance that Lincoln’s were. In the online world, we are perpetually distracted by battles, whether we realize it or not. For example:
• Are you battling against a competitor?
• Are you battling against someone who seems like a rival?
• Are you battling to get more follows or more subscribers or more comments?
• Are you literally battling with people?
When you think about engagement in light of this conversation you can see why it can very easily become a double-edged sword. Yes, it’s great to meet people, but the more people you meet, the more people you might want to compete against. The more people you meet, the more you wonder why they are reading other blogs and not yours. The more people you meet, the more likely you are to get entangled in people stuff.
Discipline is the name of the game
The key, above all things in the online world, and in life in general, is to discipline yourself to work towards that one key goal. There are so many side paths that can take you off that path, and some of them might look pretty darned tempting, but you just can’t be sure if those paths are going to wrap you back around to your goal, so it’s best to just walk the path that you know for sure will get you there. That’s not to say that you can’t look around and admire the other paths, or maybe take a step or two down those little side roads. But you always want to keep your eyes on that path you need to be on.
Lincoln was able to do this admirably. Unlike so many important leaders, Lincoln did not get mired in scandal and political turmoil once he established his cabinet. There was not time for such things, and he knew it, and he instilled that into those around him. There was one over-arching, supremely important thing, and that was always in his mind’s eye.
Set your goal and get to walking
What is your objective? Where do you need to go? Answer that question, find your path, and start walking it, or jogging it, or running it. Deal with distractions. Deal with battles. But do not let them sway you from where you know you need to go. That is what great leaders of engagement are made of.
This is post #62 in The Engagement Series. If you are worried about missing a post, please feel free to hit the subscribe button.
Image by Timo Laaksonen. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Tmou