Demonstrate an Understanding of Emotional Destiny Annotated Bibliography

Pages: 15 (4584 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 15  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Leadership

¶ … Lincoln on Leadership," Donald T. Phillips (YEAR) paints a portrait of former President Abraham Lincoln as an extremely adept leader with a vast, effective, and honest arsenal of leadership strategies. So timeless were Lincoln's methods that Phillips often relates them to success in practice today (YEAR). Interestingly, though, Lincoln faced two decades of failure before becoming one of the world's greatest leaders to ever live. From 1831 to 1858, the former President faced a string of losses, 'terrible' situations, and defeats (Janke, 2010). It is my contention that Lincoln was a great leader because he used many of the strategies of Ellis, Epictetus, and other philosophers that promote control over one's emotional destiny.

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Lincoln actively fought against a number of Albert Ellis' Irrational Beliefs, specifically No. 5: "The idea you must be miserable when you have pressures and difficult experiences; and that you have little ability to control, and cannot change, your disturbed feelings" and No. 6: "The idea that if something is dangerous or fearsome, you must obsess about it and frantically try to escape from it" (Ellis, 1997, p. 155, 177). Moreover, Lincoln's model for both leadership and life illustrates how people -- 'normal' people, by all means -- are not controlled by 'negative' situations which are, after their commencement, completely out of their control. Additionally, Lincoln's behavior showed a strong correlation to Boyd's (2010) idea of predetermined destiny, and how successful individuals address their predetermined destinies by, instead of trying to change situations over which they have no control, accepting them, recognizing their own weaknesses, and building on the strengths they know they have. Likewise, it can be argued that Lincoln was aware of Epictetus' philosophy that "Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions" (135).

Annotated Bibliography on Demonstrate an Understanding of Emotional Destiny Assignment

Before becoming President of the United States, Lincoln had suffered these events: two business failures resulting in two declarations of bankruptcy, defeat for a seat in the State Legislature, the death of a fiancee, defeat in an election, defeat in a bid for Congress three times in a row, defeat for a seat in the U.S. Senate, defeat for the office of Vice President, and another defeat for a seat in the Senate (Janke, 2010). How might he have overcome such obstacles and become one of the greatest leaders America -- and the word -- had ever seen?

Most don't overcome such a consistent pattern of defeat -- they quit after their first try (Ellis, 1987). Most do not do as Ellis says -- that is, "attempt to eliminate or improve [the] painful condition [or] accept it philosophically" (1997, p. 161). Unfortunately, this behavior surely leads down a path of unsatisfaction and the non-realization of one's goals. As we have seen in both the text books and in the online resources, one must control one's emotional destiny, as Lincoln surely did, by realizing that things and events are not inherently 'bad' -- it is merely one's interpretation that assigns a thing the label 'bad' (Ellis, 1976).

A thing cannot be 'bad,' 'good,' or 'neutral' without a human perceiving it. A thing simply 'is.' Moreover, what is 'bad' to one human may not be 'bad' to another. Also necessary to consider is the context in which the thing is viewed. Is the thing 'bad' to a person that will be born 100 years from now? How could one know that? These ideas are, in essence, what Ellis is talking about when he speaks of controlling emotional destiny; nothing is 'good' or 'bad;' it's all a matter of interpretation.

To give a specific example. There is a large rock in front of a door. A man needs to get in the door. The large rock is too heavy to move. The man cannot open the door. If the man does not open the door, the man will die. Another man is watching, but sees that the rock is too heavy, still, for the both of them to move. The observer judges the situation as such: "The rock is bad because it is blocking the door and is too heavy to move out of the way. If the man cannot open the door then the man will die. Death is bad. The rock is bad. The situation in front of me is bad."

This type of thinking employed, however, would be seen by Ellis and Epictetus as "incorrect" (which is, admittedly, another interpretation, but working in the context of a persuasive argument, I must choose a side). The philosophers would most likely ask the observer questions such as these: "How can a rock be bad? The rock might be bad for the person, but is it bad for the insects living underneath it? If we moved the rock, might it kill those insects? Might the rock, then -- in its current position -- be good? Why should this man's death be bad? How do you know that this man might not kill ten people in his lifetime if he were to live, thus preventing the births of countless future people? In this context, wouldn't the rock's placement be good, as it would save the lives of many more humans than just one, the one about to die? What if the rock, in its current location, is saving the lives of 20 people behind the door, whom which the man outside wants to kill? Isn't the rock good in that context? How can you know if the rock, the situation, or the man's death is good, bad, or neutral?

Of course, this is an extreme example, because any sane observer in this situation would make the decision -- probably because their goals include "helping other humans," -- to try to move the rock out of the way as fast as possible in an effort to save the man's life. Still, the example illustrates Ellis' point of, when faced with a difficult situation, one does not have enough information to accurately view the situation as 'for' or 'against' something (read: good or bad), and would thus be 'wrong' in making this assessment. Rather, it is one's actual thoughts that are 'for' and 'against' things. Furthermore, because one cannot change the situation (regarding the example) one is now powerless, if one views the situation as 'bad,' to change what is 'bad.' This situation, if it is true, is thus insurmountable and bounds one to live in a suffering state the rest of one's life. if, however, one understands that the situation itself is not 'bad' or 'against' something, but that it is one's thoughts that 'make' the situation bad, then one subsequently has the power to change one's interpretation of the situation and possibly see it as 'not bad' or 'manageable' (Ellis, 1997). This is what Ellis and his Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is all about (1962; 1976; 1987; 1997).

Returning back, then, to Lincoln and his relative adherence to concepts expounded by Ellis, REBT, Epictetus, and a number of the online readings, Lincoln executed many other interesting, savvy, and intelligent strategies of leadership in the face of dire situations, such as the American Civil War. In the most general sense, Lincoln "lead by being led" (Phillips,-YEAR, p. 99). In other words, the former President paid great heed to his cabinet members' suggestions, and often followed them when he felt they were right or they knew more about him regarding the subject at hand (Phillips,-YEAR). Most significantly, though, he 'let' them take credit for their ideas that succeeded while taking the blame for their ideas that failed (Phillips,-YEAR). It was in this way that he developed excellent networking skills, kept his subordinates happy, and encouraged innovation among his subordinates, especially -- as mentioned by Phillips -- among high-profile generals of the Union Army in the Civil War (YEAR).

Such a strategy toward Lincoln's management of his subordinates is reflected by an idea in the Enchiridion by Epictetus, when he said, "Don't be prideful with any excellence that is not your own. If a horse should be prideful and say, 'I am handsome,' it would be supportable. But when you are prideful, and say, 'I have a handsome horse,' know that you are proud of what is, in fact, only the good of the horse (135).

More importantly, however, this particular strategy of Lincoln's directly illustrated his belief that if a fearful situation exists -- for example, the disapproval of a government and an entire nation, the prospect of being defeated in a bid for reelection, and the loss of one of the biggest wars in American history -- he must not shrink from it or frantically try to escape it. In other words, he had successfully defeated Ellis' Irrational Belief No. 6 (1997).

When one does not shrink from a fearful situation, as Lincoln behaved, Ellis… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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