Tag Archives: Praise

I give the credit to others. Part 9

In giving these outlines, I do not mean, fellow citizens, to arrogate [claim without justification] to myself the merit of the measures. that is due in the first place to the reflecting character of our citizens at large … it is due to the sound discretion with which they select … those to whom they confide the legislative duties. it is due to the zeal & wisdom of the characters thus selected, who lay the foundations of public happiness in wholsome laws … and it is due to the able and faithful auxiliaries, whose patriotism has associated them with me in the executive functions.
Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders credit others freely and widely.
Thomas Jefferson had recited his administration’s accomplishments in curtailing government and taxes, spending wisely, acquiring Louisiana, staying out of religion and work on behalf of the Indians. Now, he refused to take claim that success as his own but acknowledged where true credit belonged:
1. First, the wisdom of America’s citizens
2. Then, the Congressional Representatives chosen by those citizens
3. The “zeal & wisdom” of those Representatives
4. His “able & faithful” co-laborers in the Executive Branch

He put citizens first, Congress and its work next, and then his capable lieutenants. He didn’t mention himself.

“Thank you for making this year’s Annual Meeting a success!
… hopefully we will work together in the future.”
Associate Executive Director, Arkansas Bar Association
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, go to FoundersArchives.gov. Cut a few words from the letter in the post, paste them into the search box at the top, with beginning and ending quotation marks, and click the GO button. The correct letter … should … come up.
Or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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Which is greater for you, pleasure or pain?

… I find the pain of a little censure, even when it is unfounded, is more acute than the pleasure of much praise.
To Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Thin-skinned leaders have a tough time!
Most of this letter to his friend addressed an “anti-federalist” assertion Hopkinson had read about Jefferson in the press. Hopkinson wanted to know if it were true. Jefferson went to great length to explain that he was not an anti-federalist (yet he would in later years become the leader of that movement).

This one short excerpt near the end of that response is telling. He admitted that even slight criticism, true or false, troubled him greatly. It outweighed any pleasure he might experience  from praise. It is a weakness for leaders, as it was for Jefferson, when they cannot ignore the attacks that routinely come to anyone in that capacity.

“The decision to bring Patrick Lee was a wise one.
His presentation was both credible and enlightening. He captivated our engineers …
Chairman and CEO, Schoor DePalma, Engineers and Consultants, New Jersey
Will credible, enlightening and captivating benefit your audience?
Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739

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