The Better Angels of Our Nature

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by Steve Holt on November 7, 2012

The upcoming movie about Abraham Lincoln has caused me to think about the things he said and did that made him one of the greatest, if not the greatest, presidents in history.

At Lincoln’s Inaugural Address in 1861, with the drums of war beating stronger by the day, he closed his address pleading for everyone to listen to the ‘better angels of our nature’ to maintain our fragile union.  Lincoln’s story shows a depth of character and leadership not seen by many since. And considering his flaws and weaknesses is even more remarkable.

As the holidays approach, which are my favorite times of the year, I wonder what you’ll be doing.  I know what my family will be doing.  We spend a great deal of time together.  We eat, we laugh, we sit and talk. We spend way too much time eating actually.  But we also spend time doing things for others.  We donate time volunteering at our local food bank and clothing store.  We pray for others during candlelight services at our church.  We donate money at the local soup bowl fundraiser for the needy and drop a little bit more in the plate when it’s passed. And we try hard (but aren’t always successful) at cutting back on the amount of gifts we give each other.  After all, we certainly don’t need much.

I think those are the angels that Lincoln was talking about.  He was talking about stepping outside our own needs and doing things for others… for the greater good.  So I ask the question again, what will you be doing?  More importantly, what will your business be doing?

I hope you will do what you can. I hope you encourage your employees to donate their time and efforts for someone else, and I hope you let them do it during work hours.  I hope you donate money to those in need.  I hope you let your employees have just a little bit more time off to spend with their families.  If you haven’t done those sorts of things before, let this holiday season be the time you start.

‘Business’ gets a bad rap all too often and can be seen as cold, uncaring, and only focused on making money. There’s nothing wrong with making money, but don’t let your business be seen like that.  Listen to the better angles of our nature and let this holiday season be the time you did things differently.

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