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BY Joel Junker

Lincoln Letters – timeless method for controlling emotions and frustrations

I have four children at home; girls  ages 9, 7 and 18 months and one boy age 3.  Quite often they get frustrated and angry with another.  Those of you with children can understand.  My two oldest daughters always seem to be at odds with one another the most.  They fight about the bathroom, the hair brush or who sits where in the car.  Sometimes the drama is too much.

In an effort to create better ways to handle frustrations, I told my two daughters abouth Lincoln Letters.  Abraham Lincoln achieved success by being patient, encouraging, firm, hopeful and principled.  He did have a dark side though.  He easily became angry and frustrated.  He recognized his flaw and found a way to manage it.  He would write scathing letters to those who upset him.  President Lincoln would take time to write all of his thoughts and emotions in a letter to the person.  Many of his Civil War Generals deserved them, but he never sent them.  He simply wrote “Not sent” on the back of the letter and put it in a drawer or threw it away. 

Lincoln once said, “Let minor differences, and personal preferences, if there be such; go to the winds.”  These letters sent his frustrations and anger to the “wind”.  For my daughters, the hair brush, bathroom and seat in the car are minor.  I am teaching them to let them go.  Now, on more important matters, I am teaching them how to work through conflict, listen and share feelings without accusing, but that is for another posting. 

The lesson for all of us in leadreship positions, is that it is okay to be upset or frustrated with one another, but we need to find a way to let trivial matters go.  Maybe Lincoln Letters could work for us as well.

Joel Junker