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10 Powerful Things Abraham Lincoln Said That Will Inspire Your Life

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10 Powerful Things Abraham Lincoln Said That Will Inspire Your Life

Abraham Lincoln delivered some of the most memorable quotes of any U.S. president, filled to the burst with wisdom that’s been passed down for the last hundred-plus years. Here are some especially poignant quotes from Honest Abe that are as relevant today as they’ve ever been.

1. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Abraham Lincoln was wise enough to know when to stay quiet. You should also be aware of the times when the best thing to say is nothing at all. Some political discussions on Facebook might be best to avoid, for example.

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2. “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”

It wouldn’t be a proper list of Abraham Lincoln quotes without something expressing his views on slavery. With this quote, Abe demonstrates his understanding that our roles should not be simplified to being owned or being an owner. That still applies today, even if actual slavery is a thing of the past in the United States. Too often (like in the workplace) people will feel in servitude to someone else, when equality is the best option.

3. “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

Patience is good, but an eagerness to make your mark is often better. To get the things you want you need to be actively, fervently pursuing them. An author who waits for someone to discover his novel on Amazon is less likely to succeed than an author actively marketing himself.

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    Image via Flickr by coconinoco.

    4. “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

    Preparation is the key to productivity. Abraham Lincoln suggested here that his rule of thumb was to spend two-thirds of your time preparing, and one-third actually doing. Employ a similar mindset to achieve comparable results. Writing this article, for example, was a lot easier because I collected the quotes ahead of time instead of one at a time.

    5. “It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”

    This can be a tough quote to get your head around. Wouldn’t those without sin be the most holy? Not according to Abraham Lincoln, who believes that a willingness to do bad is a necessary component of being good. Someone who is willing to break the law for a good reason, for example, is often superior to someone too afraid to.

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    11746994686_6261b08b52_z
      Image via Flickr by Lending Memo.

      6. “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.”

      Abraham Lincoln recognized that, though we should prepare for the future, we shouldn’t live in fear of it. As long as we’re aware of what’s coming, it can’t sneak up on us. Think about this especially when saving for retirement.

      7. “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

      Failure is inevitable. Necessary, even, on the path to greatness. Abraham Lincoln knew that the important thing is that you care enough to try again. Most of the most successful businessmen had at least one failed startup before they became millionaires and billionaires. They stuck through the hard times, and you should, too.

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        Image via Flickr by Wally Gobetz.

        8. “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

        Happiness is a pretty abstract thing, but Abraham Lincoln simplifies it somewhat with this quote by explaining that a lot of our well-being comes from our attitudes. In a lot of ways, happiness is within our own power. Don’t get too hung up on being passed over for a promotion, for example, and be grateful for what you have, instead.

        9. “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

        One of my favorite Abraham Lincoln quotes. Follow his advice by looking for the good in the bad instead of searching for the bad in the good. You can find faults in everyone, even the people you most love. But it’s better to notice the things that are great about them if you want happy relationships.

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        10. “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

        The life of Abraham Lincoln was cut short when he was assassinated at the age of 56. It’s a very good thing that he understood that he lived a full and meaningful life, even if it wasn’t as long as it should have been. Don’t waste your time with trivial matters. Do things that make a difference so that, even if you die tomorrow, you’ll have lived a fulfilling life.

        Featured photo credit: William Hartz via flickr.com

        More by this author

        Matt OKeefe

        Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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        Last Updated on July 20, 2021

        How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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        How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

        You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

        Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

        Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

        Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

        1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

        According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

        “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

        Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

        Warming up

        If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

        If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

        Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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        1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
        2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
        3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

        Stay hydrated

        Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

        To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

        Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

        Meditate

        Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

        Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

        Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

        Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

        2. Focus on your goal

        One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

        Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

        Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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        Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

        If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

        3. Convert negativity to positivity

        There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

        ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

        It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

        Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

        Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

        Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

        4. Understand your content

        Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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        However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

        “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

        Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

        Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

        One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

        5. Practice makes perfect

        Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

        In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

        Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

        6. Be authentic

        There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

        Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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        Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

        To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

        With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

        Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

        7. Post speech evaluation

        Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

        Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

        We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

        You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

        Improve your next speech

        As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

        Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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        • How did I do?
        • Are there any areas for improvement?
        • Did I sound or look stressed?
        • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
        • Was I saying “um” too often?
        • How was the flow of the speech?

        Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

        If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

        Reference

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