This weeks Wednesday wisdom comes from the Daily Coach email blog with a mixture of my own thoughts. We are given the  example of President Abraham Lincoln to share a lesson of how to handle disappointment and frustration with a team mate.

Abraham Lincoln was steaming.

The battle of Gettysburg was won, and the Confederates should’ve been near surrender, but the president felt Gen. George Meade had horribly botched the next steps.

“You had at least twenty thousand veteran troops directly with you, and as many more raw ones within supporting distance, all in addition to those who fought with you at Gettysburg,” Lincoln wrote Meade. “And yet you stood and let the flood run down, bridges be built, and the enemy move away at his leisure, without attacking him.”

Are you wondering what the response was to thus letter? Wondering how the General responded?  We are all left wondering this because….Lincoln never sent the letter. He knew it would crush his faithful general to learn of his extreme disappointment.

The “hot letter” was a critical tool for Lincoln during his presidency. He wrote several of them in which he’d unabashedly express his rage toward someone. But he never sent them – he understood that the damage done by his words would far outweigh the satisfaction he’d get by sending them.

It’s easy to grow irate at team members and friends whose missteps make our already-difficult jobs even harder….Someone horribly drops the ball on a loan, an assistant badly botches income calculations, a friend does something really stupid to make our life more difficult. These are frustrating scenarios that evoke a feeling of anger and action – but to act on these feelings may do irreparable damage to long-term relationships. Damaging relationships by acting on short-term emotion is not the wisest path. Don’t take actions now that you will regret later. 

Gen. Meade continued to serve Lincoln loyally after the debacle, but who knows what might’ve transpired had the president had this message delivered?

When we are upset or frustrated with someone over a misstep, we can draft the email (a ‘hot email’) or type out the text…but let’s remember the fine example of President Lincoln….and delete it after we type it. (Make sure you never input an email into the “To:” just to be safe as well!)

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