A Quick Story:
The Civil War could have ended sooner.
Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army was trapped near the Potomac River, and Abraham Lincoln ordered General George Meade to capture them. But instead of following commands, Meade hesitated and Lee narrowly escaped.
In a fit of rage, Lincoln wrote a scathing letter questioning Meade's integrity and blaming him for needlessly prolonging the war.
Except he didn’t send it.
Lincoln put the letter aside so he could evaluate the situation later with a clearer eye. He understood that self-control—not rage—resolves conflicts. Within two years, the Union won the Civil War, solidifying Lincoln as arguably the greatest president in American history.
Years after Lincoln’s death, historians discovered a huge stash of angry letters, all with the same notation: “never sent and never signed”—this was the tactic that helped him keep his cool in those turbulent times.
Why It Matters:
Today, an ill-timed tweet or an impulsive text can ruin your career, your relationship, and your reputation. Our smartphones beg us to publish our thoughts and feelings 24/7 without considering the ramifications.
This is where Lincoln’s advice comes in. If you feel the urge to send an inflammatory message, remember: Always write it, never send it.
According to a brain-imaging study conducted by UCLA, putting feelings into words has a therapeutic effect on the brain, even if those words never see the light of day. You get the same cathartic effect of venting without the unpredictable consequences.
Don’t let fleeting emotions create permanent consequences. As the philosopher Zeno said, “Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue”—or the keyboard.
My interview with #1 New York Times bestselling author Ryan Holiday
I recently had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interview my favorite living writer, Ryan Holiday, about his role in bringing Stoic philosophy into the NFL, Hollywood, Capitol Hill, and thousands of email inboxes across the world. Check it out here: Ryan Holiday Is Reviving a 2,000-Year-Old Philosophy, One Email at a Time.
A Sneak Peek at Next Month’s Book Giveaway
Next month, I’m ranking the five best books I read in 2020. As an end-of-year bonus, I’m choosing three random subscribers from this newsletter and giving them whichever book they want from that list, for free. Stay tuned for details.
I hope you find these stories as valuable as I have. Feel free to forward this to anyone who may be interested or reply with feedback. All of my writing can be viewed at dominicv.net. If this was forwarded to you and you'd like to sign up, just click here. To download my freelance writing course, click here. Want to work with me? Check out Law 6 Media.