Whether or not you’re patriotic, you can’t help but recognize that the nation’s presidents know how to weave words. What they say can drive people to think differently, act vigorously, and, ultimately, change the world. Here are some well-spoken words from the mouths of past presidents.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
Mr. Adams got it right when he said “actions” instead of “words.” The pen might be mightier than the sword, but actions speak louder than words. By setting a good example, listening well to others, and keeping an open mind and humble attitude, you can spur your peers to be better people. You don’t have to hold an official leadership position to be a good leader, either. You can inspire others whenever and wherever.
“An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory.” – Millard Fillmore
Campuses and workplaces are rife with competition, and some people would sell their soul — and their mother’s soul — to get ahead. However, from Mr. Fillmore we glean that the greatest victory lies not in looking like you’re winning but in preserving your moral integrity.
“Whatever you do, tell the truth.” – Grover Cleveland
Okay, so maybe this one makes you chuckle because politicians aren’t exactly known for their honesty. However, this Biblical advice stands on firm ground whether you are a president, a priest, or just a good friend. Sometimes you might hold back from telling the truth because you want to spare someone’s feelings, but it is possible to be both tactful and truthful. At other times, honesty is tough because you want to avoid embarrassment. It’ll be more embarrassing if you are caught in a lie.
“We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage.” – Teddy Roosevelt
The word “great” has lost its potency over time. People throw it around for any old reason. True greatness, however, means that you rise above the ordinary and break down the barriers of expectation. Take it from Mr. Roosevelt: work hard and push past your fears to achieve not just your goals, but also your dreams.
“Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood.” – William Taft
The juxtaposition that Mr. Taft draws here is a subtle but important one, especially for aspiring writers. It is one thing to get your message to other people; it takes more effort to get it into them. Even William Shakespeare, who made up words all over the place, flawlessly communicated the underlying themes and emotions in his works. If your interest in writing extends only to penning your next essay or that memo for your boss, you can still benefit by always striving for clarity in what you write.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb … Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge
Mr. Coolidge very eloquently hammers down the point that you should never give up. Regardless of what you are working toward, if it is anything of merit, it takes some serious elbow grease to get there.
“Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
That’s a big task, right? It is easy to get so caught up in the mundane that all your great aspirations somehow fall to the wayside. Even if you can’t change the entire world, you can change your world by not letting the anxieties of the everyday drown out what you really want to accomplish.
The winsome words of the U.S.’s past presidents are applicable to everyone. What are your favorite presidential quotes?