Once Lincoln obtained the presidency, all hell broke loose… South Carolina seceded followed closely by the rest of the Confederate States. The crises did have one silver lining – Lincoln’s presidential mandate was defined for him: Save the Union. And that is what he set out to do.
Lincoln totally delegated foreign affairs and national financial matters to two trusted cabinet members: Seward and Chase. And when I say delegated, I am being generous. Lincoln focused entirely on his mission, which was to preserve the Union, and neglected all sorts of "traditional" presidential functions. All of the rules of presidential normality fell away. Even the death of his son Willie in 1862 didn’t shake him from his task. Because of his sense of destiny, he was entirely focused on accomplishing his mission in life. He would walk down to the war department and spend hours pouring over battlefield and situation reports. Every conversation, every newspaper, every letter served one purpose – saving the Union, and he worked tirelessly to that end (often 18 hour days). Ironically, he was not seen as a great president in his day… he died in 1865 having just completed his great task of saving the Union with little recognition that would be thrust upon him later.
Great leaders, great parents, great spouses… know their mission and don’t let anything stand in their way. What is your mission? Can you verbalize it? Does everything you do serve that end? If not, sit down with a good cup of coffee and a journal and ask some hard questions. It could be the best time you ever spend.