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Balance idealism with pragmatism.
No one doubts that Abraham Lincoln was an idealist. But in an effort to preserve the Union and end slavery, he often compromised on matters ranging from personnel (as chronicled in the recent Doris Kearns Goodwin biography Team of Rivals) to Constitutional principle. This is the hardest lesson for any leader to learn – to achieve progress, you often has to make choices that come uncomfortably close to violating your core beliefs. Knowing the difference between a necessary compromise and a dangerous one takes a special gift.