Lincoln Was A Slow Thinker


(The following is an excerpt from the CD “Lincoln’s Wisdom”
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.   (You can obtain this CD at or at

“I was always a slow thinker. Billy Herndon, my long-time law partner, said I even walked like I needed oiling. He said if I tried to think too fast, the machinery jammed.

If you’re a slow thinker, there’s no reason to be embarrassed about it. There are advantages. You make fewer mistakes. Making decisions too quickly can be a great folly. Wisdom is more important than brilliance.

I was a slow thinker, but I was a deliberate, methodical thinker.

To use an analogy from surveying—I was a surveyor for a while—‘I was never happy with an idea until I had bounded it north, and bounded it south, and bounded it east, and bounded it west.’

Or to use an analogy from farming, I wanted to dig up an idea and examine it by the roots.

When I was a mere child, I used to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a way that I could not understand. I’d sometimes lie in my bed at night and turn the words over and over in my mind, until I thought I understood them, and then I would put the idea in language plain enough, as I thought, for any boy I knew to comprehend.

My son Willie thought in the same manner that I did. People said Willie was like me in many ways, and the way we processed ideas was one of them.

Once in the White House, I put a problem to Willie. He was silent for quite a while. Then he smiled and gave me his answer. I told a guest who was present: ‘I know every step of the process by which that boy arrived at his solution. It is by just such slow methods that I attain results.’”

Lincoln’s self-awareness and his grasp of the importance of careful, deliberate, methodical is relevant today.

Contrary to wide belief, many decisions do not have to be made immediately. You can say, “I’d like to give this matter some thought.”  Then add the power phrase: “I’ll get back to you.”

I know one successful executive who says that she waits 24 hours whenever she can.  She calls it “The Power Of 24.”

What 24 hours does is give you time to get information, tamp down your emotions, give your subconscious a chance to work, script yourself in order to communicate effectively.  And, sometimes if you’re lucky, the problem solves itself within 24 hours

Don’t get embarrassed using a spurious Lincoln quote. Here’s a quotation book you can trust. 

The Words Lincoln Lived By

“This is a book to cherish and share.”—Bill Marriott, CEO, Marriott International, Inc.

“Not only does Griessman give us Lincoln quotes, but he also weaves each one into a little jewel of an essay on that particular subject.” Wayne C. Temple, renowned Lincoln scholar, Illinois State Archives

You will also enjoy Lincoln Speaks To Leaders by Gene Griessman and Pat Williams.

Don’t leave yet. You’ve found a goldmine. Check out additional power phrases and unusual quotations.




Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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