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Whatever you are, be a good one - Abraham Lincoln

Whatever you are, be a good one – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States once said “Whatever you are, be a good one”. This seemingly uncomplicated piece of advice encapsulates a universal truth that goes beyond mere self-help rhetoric. Lincoln’s words serve as a timeless reminder that it’s not merely what we do that defines us, but how we do it. Whether you’re a student striving to excel in your studies, a professional committed to your career, or an artist passionately exploring your creative boundaries, the call to excellence rings clear and is applicable in all walks of life.

Interpretation of the Quote

The beauty of Abraham Lincoln’s words lies in their simplicity, yet the depth they contain is immense. “Whatever you are, be a good one” speaks to the heart of what it means to be human and strive for excellence. Let’s dissect this powerful statement to uncover its various facets:

  1. Embracing Individuality: The quote begins with “Whatever you are,” which acknowledges that we all have unique paths, interests, and callings. It encourages embracing who we are and what we do, without the pressure of conforming to societal norms or expectations.
  2. Pursuit of Excellence: By urging us to be a “good one,” Lincoln is not merely suggesting adequacy but inspiring a relentless pursuit of excellence. The focus is on being the best version of ourselves, whether as a teacher, an artist, a parent, or any other role we occupy.
  3. Integrity and Authenticity: The quote doesn’t simply prompt us to excel in the external world; it asks us to align our actions with our inner values and beliefs. Being a “good one” means acting with integrity and authenticity, upholding moral standards, and being true to ourselves.
  4. Universal Application: Its universal applicability makes this quote profoundly impactful. Whether in personal relationships, professional endeavors, or community engagements, these words serve as a guiding principle that can lead to a fulfilling and meaningful life.
  5. A Democratic Approach to Success: Lincoln’s words democratize success, implying that greatness is not reserved for a privileged few but attainable by anyone willing to dedicate themselves to their craft, irrespective of their field or status.
  6. Catalyst for Positive Impact: By inspiring individuals to be their best, the quote has a ripple effect on society. Excellence in one’s field can lead to innovations, improved quality of life, and contribute to a better world.
Whatever you are, be a good one - Abraham Lincoln
Whatever you are, be a good one – Abraham Lincoln

Application in Different Fields

The powerful words of Abraham Lincoln resonate across diverse areas of life, guiding and inspiring individuals to strive for excellence.

  1. Professional Life:
    • Business: Emphasizing quality and integrity, the quote inspires entrepreneurs to offer exceptional products and services, leading to customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
    • Education: Teachers, students, and administrators can strive to excel in their roles, fostering an environment of continuous learning and growth.
    • Healthcare: Medical professionals guided by this principle can offer compassionate and exemplary care, enhancing patient experiences and outcomes.
  2. Personal Development:
    • Self-Improvement: The quote encourages a relentless pursuit of personal growth, be it in developing new skills, nurturing talents, or enhancing emotional intelligence.
    • Relationships: Applying this principle to personal relationships means investing in kindness, empathy, and understanding, building stronger connections with loved ones.
  3. Social Responsibility:
    • Community Engagement: Whether volunteering or leading social initiatives, individuals can strive to make a substantial positive impact within their communities.
    • Environmental Stewardship: Embracing the ethos of being the best at whatever you are can translate into responsible environmental practices and sustainable living.
  4. Artistic Endeavors:
    • Creativity: Artists, writers, and musicians can adopt this principle to create original, impactful works that enrich cultural landscapes.
    • Innovation: Innovators and designers can pursue excellence in their creations, leading to groundbreaking solutions that improve daily life.
  5. Sports and Fitness:
    • Athletic Performance: Athletes can use this quote as a mantra for continuous improvement, focusing on training, discipline, and sportsmanship.
    • Healthy Living: Individuals pursuing fitness can apply the quote’s wisdom to their health goals, striving for balance, and well-being.


In the journey of life, the path we choose and how we traverse it can define not only our success but our fulfillment and sense of purpose. Abraham Lincoln’s immortal words, “Whatever you are, be a good one,” serve as a timeless compass, guiding us to seek excellence, integrity, and authenticity in all that we undertake.

Also Read: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer

shashi shekhar

Completed my PGDM from IMS Ghaziabad, specialized in (Marketing and H.R) "I truly believe that continuous learning is key to success because of which I keep on adding to my skills and knowledge."

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