Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln

Today Honest Abe would have been 201 years old. There are many things and questions written about Abraham Lincoln; things written about his speeches, did he have a death wish, was he clinically depressed, how tall he was and what his favorite jokes were.

During President Obama’s run for office, he quoted Lincoln often and even made the book “Team of Rivals” very popular. Every presidential candidate at some point in his run for office quotes Lincoln, hints at comparisons to Lincoln, and claims they know what Lincoln would have done if he were alive today.

I don’t think Lincoln knew what he was going to do half the time. While he was one of the smartest men to ever hold the office, I think Mr. Lincoln didn’t always have a pre-determined plan, but thought things out fully before making decisions.

Think about it, Lincoln was a self-educated man, with about 18 months total formal schooling, with the rest learning on his own. With his own schooling, he became a lawyer, a House Representative for Illinois, and President. To self-educate, you need to read extensively, and also interpret and come to some sort of conclusion on your own. There is nobody there to guide you to an answer, or even give you one if you don’t know the answer. Lincoln had to have spent his entire life thinking this way. It was the only way he knew. He had to think of every single situation going on and every thing he read from multiple angles and come to some rational understanding on his own. To me, this seems why Lincoln was a calm man. He knew there was more than one side to a situation, and he usually thought about the other two and three sides before anyone else, it was innate. This also gave him the confidence in knowing that the decisions he made were the right decisions.

This is why Lincoln was fully capable of running his own campaigns, writing his own speeches, assembling a strong cabinet, freeing the slaves, and saving the Union. When he set out for the Presidency, did he think states would actually secede from the Union, pushing the nation into a civil war, or have to free the slaves sooner than later? I doubt he saw most of that coming, but when it arrived, he knew he had the confidence to handle whatever situation was put in front of him.

Lincoln was always thinking outside the box because he knew that was his advantage to everything.

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Ahh, the smell of Freshly Sharpened Pencils!

As September is upon us, it always makes me think of how I feel this in the start of a new year. Yeah, I know January 1st is usually thought upon as the beginning of the year, but for me, September always feels like a new beginning.

You see, I was one of those kids who actually looked forward to the school year starting. As a child I couldn’t wait to go shopping for new things for school. Yeah, my mom and I would hit the mall and buy new clothes for school, but my favorite part was when I would get new school supplies! Pens! Pencils! Notebooks! A vast array of crayons, markers and erasers. Me in the store, “mom, how about this, could I get this??” and my mother staying calm and saying, Now Nicholas, you don’t need new scissors and rulers every year, put them back.” But she did always manage to make sure I had the proper backpack. To this day, I carry a backpack to work. I’ve tried it all, messenger bags, briefcases, totes, you name it, I’m sure to have it somewhere. But I always go back to the backpack, or as they used to call it in my day, the bookbag.  My boss and other managers in the office always look at me kinda strange that I carry a backpack to work. Another manager here uses his beach bag, so at least I’m not the craziest one here.

The point I’m getting to is that if you look around, August is a quiet month. Stores will close and give their workers a week or two off, most people go on a vacation, it seems like everyone is resting up for September.  That’s because in September, the kids go back to school, the seasons change, the office tends to pick up a little more (since people have been taking vacation all summer long). Things pick up in September; it’s just a way of life. When I entered college, the iPhone wasn’t invented. Not that I’m old, it’s just that technology moves pretty fast. I was starting something new and wanted to make sure I was on top of everything I had to do. Between classes, activities, and being involved heavily on campus, I needed to make sure that I knew where I was going and when. The bookstore had nice compact Rider datebooks, which fit right in that front compartment of my backpack. But I didn’t want to have to buy one now and then a new one in January.  Well, this was a special calendar, which started in September, and ended the September of next year. This was the calendar for me!

School gets it right, September is the beginning of the year for me. It is time to start anew. If you are looking for me this weekend, I’ll be getting some new supplies for school, uh, I mean my office.


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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

We all take different paths in life. Some of us are on the express train to law school, while others are on the local and it seems like they are not sure which stop they are getting off. I’ve always known where I wanted to go in life, but I never got there the way others thought I should. For example, when I thought about going back to school to be a teacher , I signed up for the LSAT to become a lawyer, because eventually, my thought process was, with a law degree, you could teach. Why would I even think about going to school for education when I could just get a law degree.

While sitting in a classroom at NYU Law School taking the LSAT, I thought to myself, why on earth am I going to law school, it’s really hard, very expensive and every single person that I know who is a lawyer is telling me not to go to law school, especially if I want to teach. But, I passed the exam, and even got a small scholarship notice to a law school on the West Coast. I never told that to anyone, because by the time I received that letter, I was already over law school before it even started. I was going to go back to school for teaching, an idea I had always had in the back of my head but never went at it straight on.

Going back to school for education led me in a completely different path than I would ever have imagined. I moved back to New Jersey, reconnected with some old friends, and wound up running into my now wife at the local Starbucks. If I would have gone to school directly for education after my undergrad, or instead of taking the LSAT first, who knows where that path would have taken me, but I would not have learned the things I did along the path that I chose. Also, I didn’t make me feel that I was pushed into doing something I didn’t want at that time. It’s like when a baby takes his first steps, you try and try and try to help him get that first step, but the moment you turn your back on him, he is up and walking towards you very wobbly and excited, because he did it on his own.

I always tell people, whatever you decide, its the right decision, because you made it and that is what works best for you. Yes, sometimes you have to take others thoughts, ideas and considerations into your conclusion, but ultimately it’s what you decided upon.

So make sure to think clearly, and own the decision you make, because it’s yours.

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