Presidential wisdom

This is a presidential election year in the USA and this month of February is the month we remember two great presidents of yesteryear.  Monday is Presidents’ Day, part way between the birth dates of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

We do not readily associate these successful political figures with business, but both were one-time businessmen.  Washington was a large landowner in the planting industry and experienced both failures and successes in the business and was recognized among his peers as an innovator and leader in agriculture.

Lincoln grew up on a farm in southern Indiana helping his father in the business.  Later he went into the law business with a partner.

Washington himself said, “We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.” In that spirit we offer these quotes, trusting they will be of use to any business owner, startup novice or Business as Mission advocate.

Quotes attributed to George Washington: 2

  • I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.
  • It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.
  • Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.
  • Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.
  • Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.
  • We must consult our means rather than our wishes.
  • System to all things is the soul of business. To execute properly and act maturely is the way to conduct it to your advantage.
  • We had high expectations. We were just inconsistent.  
  • Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive.  
  • Decision making, like coffee, needs a cooling process.
  • How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.

Quotes attributed to Abraham Lincoln3

  • Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
  • Whatever you are, be a good one.
  • I will prepare and some day my chance will come.
  • My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.
  • I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day.
  • I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.
  • Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.
  • I am not concerned that you have fallen — I am concerned that you arise.
  • Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
  • It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.
  • That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.
  • I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from The Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book.
  • I hold that while man exists, it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind. 

1  George Washington Digital Encyclopedia. Mount Vernon Estate. George Washington and Agriculture and George Washington as Farmer.
2 Goodreads. George Washington Quotes.
3 Goodreads. Abraham Lincoln Quotes.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures
larry.sharp@ibecventures.com

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