issue 95

Gene Griessman, Ph.D. Editor
To receive a complimentary issue of TAD, email us at and type “Subscribe.”

Forward to your friends. If you move to a different email address, please let us know. TAD is scanned for viruses.  404-435-2225
“Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time.”
—Theodore Roosevelt  (26th President; 1858 –1919)

Using Your Mistakes
“The higher up you go, the more mistakes you are allowed. Right at the top, if you make enough of them, it’s considered to be your style.”
—Fred Astaire (American dancer and actor; 1899 –1987)

“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
–Edith Wharton (American novelist; 1862 –1937)

Intellectual Honesty
“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.”
-–Francis Bacon (English philosopher and scientist, in “Novum Organum” (1620); his theory is now known as the scientific method.)

Brighten The Corner Where You Are
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
–Edmund Burke  (Irish statesman and philosopher; 1729–1797)

“I confess, without shame, I am sick and tired of fighting—its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands and fathers. Only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated, cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation.”
— William Tecumseh Sherman (American general; 1820 –1891)

Perfect Practice
“Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired…I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each it is the performance of a dedicated, precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit.” –Martha Graham (American dancer and choreographer–1894 –1991: from her autobiography “Blood Memory.”)

An amateur practices until he gets it right.
A professional practices until he cannot get it wrong.”
–Traditional saying

Creative Borrowing
The kernel, the soul–let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual valuable material of all human utterances is plagiarism.” –Jonathan Lethem (American novelist and essayist in “The Ecstasy of Influence”; 1964–)

“I think only when our clever brain and our human heart work together in harmony can we achieve our full potential.” –Jane Goodall (English primatologist, ethologist, and anthropologist; 1934–)

Common Cents
He who buys what he does not need will one day need what he cannot buy.
Nothing is a bargain if you don’t need it.
–traditional sayings

You Never Know, But Maybe You Should.
When Tiger Woods was a student at Stanford in the mid 1990s, a classmate by the name of Adam Seelig spotted Woods practicing in the hallway one night and returned to his own dorm to ask “Who is this total loser practicing putts at 11 PM on Saturday night?”. (Source: The New York Times April 30, 2012)

The Zen master Ikkyu was once asked to write a distillation of the highest wisdom.
He wrote only one word: Attention.

The visitor was displeased. “Is that all?”

Then Ikkyu wrote two words.  Attention. Attention.

(Source: Jenny Offill; “Dept. of Speculation”)
Lincoln Did Not Say
“Many quotes on the Internet are bogus, including this one.”
—Abraham Lincoln

The Internet is full of them.  Bogus quotes attributed to Churchill and Mark Twain and Lincoln.  The Lincoln quotes are the ones I get.  Most come from well-meaning people who want to know what I think, but some come from email mills, a cottage industry led by people trying to make others think that Lincoln believed what they do.

Sometimes it’s difficult to say with certainty that Lincoln never ever said something. Who knows what he might have said in an unguarded moment?

Not long ago I was asked about a supposed Lincoln quote that has Lincoln saying that he had a clean mind because he grew up in Indiana. If growing up in Indiana gave Lincoln a clean mind, I wonder if Lincoln would have had a dirtier mind if he had grown up in Kentucky or Illinois or some other place.  Is it possible for someone to have grown up in Indiana with a dirty mind?   And would a man who was known for his earthy jokes—some called his jokes “smutty” and “dirty”—to have said that he had a clean mind?  Now, nobody can be absolutely sure that Lincoln never ever said that.  But I have my doubts.

There are some Lincoln quotes that we know for sure are illegitimate because we know who the real daddy is.

The most famous of the illegitimate Lincoln quotes was actually produced by a Presbyterian minister, a Rev. John Henry Boetcker.  In 1916 Boetcker published a list of maxims that eventually mutated into something Lincoln supposedly said.  His list has been quoted innumerable times in newspapers and magazines, on radio and TV, and millions of times as emails and on the Internet.  Recently a friend who loves Lincoln sent me Boetcker’s maxims hoping to convince me that Lincoln would never have approved of entitlements.   Ronald Reagan quoted them as Lincoln’s before a national audience at the 1992 Republican National Convention.

Here they are:  “You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”

Again, lest there be any misunderstanding, those words were written in 1916, long after Lincoln’s death in 1865.  The next time you read a Lincoln quote that doesn’t feel quite right, check it out at  And if you want a Lincoln quote book in which every single Lincoln quote is meticulously researched, get a copy of “The Words Lincoln Lived By.”

I still remember how I felt when I first encountered a poem by Robert Frost in a high-school textbook. Here’s that poem: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep,

The poem doesn’t have a clever title, and it has just 115 words.  Yet those words made a teen-age boy, who had little interest in poetry, feel something.  I felt the snow’s gentle bite, saw the woods, heard the horse’s harness bells. Poems like it made Robert Frost famous.  Why?  How? And if there’s a lesson here, what is it?

One lesson.  Whenever you discover anything that works beautifully–whether it’s an award-winning TV show, a car that looks amazing, a football team that goes  undefeated, or a hotel that consistently gets glowing reviews, you can be sure that it did not happen by accident. Now, back to Robert Frost.  Here’s what Frost said about his writing technique in one of his recently published letters:  “To be perfectly frank with you, I am one of the most notable craftsman of my time….I alone of English writers have consciously set myself to make music out of what I may call the sound of sense.”

Sound arrogant?  Conceited?  Many high achievers I’ve interviewed made remarks like this.  Frost knew he was good at what he did, and he knew Why he was good.

There is yet another lesson here for the high achiever, even those who think they have no time for poetry. To master any subject, you must discover and use its rules and rhythms. This “most notable craftsman” was a listener, and he knew what to listen for–the intonations and rhythms of his neighbors.

Frost sometimes called his poems “talk-song.” He coined the idea of “the sound of sense” to describe his use of everyday speech rhythms.  Most people do not write with their ears, only with their brains.  Academics typically use this style of communication.  Lincoln read aloud all his speeches and important letters before he let them go. No wonder so many of his expressions are memorable, sound so musical. (Source of quote from Frost letter:: The New Yorker February 10, 2014)

Abraham Lincoln explained his approach to leadership at the historic 1851 Brumby Hall and Gardens in Marietta, GA. Gene Griessman’s in-character and in-costume session was the closing presentation of Bixler Consulting Group Client Retreat, “This was a terrific surprise,” one participant wrote.  “I had an idea we would be visited by someone like Lincoln and thought it would be entertaining, but not only was it entertaining but he was very effective at taking lessons from the past and using them as leadership lessons for us today.  I wished I was able to take notes but was very happy with his audio book and quote book.”  Another participant wrote: “He helped me more fully understand how to set your mind on a target and to keep the faith that you can get there.”  . (Photo by Tom Mileshko,  Mileshko Creative Imaging)

“Lincoln’s Last Debate” A Review
“Rarely have the principles of governance and leadership been so thoughtfully presented as they are in Gene Griessman’s latest play, ‘Lincoln’s Last Debate.’ The warmly human production features President Abraham Lincoln visiting President Barack Obama, as the latter debates running for a second term.

“Dr. Griessman, a Lincoln scholar, finds striking similarities between the 16th and the 44th Presidents, from their humble backgrounds to the strong-willed women they married. Strong doses of humor enliven discussions about the proper role of government. With empathy and insight, the playwright also explores the dark side of the presidency – the fears, the hesitations, the regrets. What does it take to get elected? What does it take to keep your promises, to hold fast to your ideals? Issues, as relevant today as in Lincoln’s time, promote lively post-play discussion for audience members.

You will leave Lincoln’s Last Debate thinking…and smiling.”

—Sondra Ilgenfritz, managing artistic director Atlanta Theatre-To-Go


Resources (at
Audio Books (CDs)
Videos, Training Films
To unsubscribe, click “Reply” and type “unsubscribe.” Be sure to tell us what email address TAD comes to.  We will miss you, but we will honor your request.