No matter how you feel about the results of Tuesday’s election, you’re probably spending a lot of time thinking about government right now. And while it’s always a mistake to talk about politics at work, there’s a lot to be said for looking at our former leaders for career inspiration. Leaders on both sides of the aisle frequently reference the Founding Fathers as a source of wisdom and insight.
Among the Founding Fathers, no one shines brighter than Thomas Jefferson, who drafted The Declaration of Independence, and was the country’s first Secretary of State and its third president. Since so many of us are thinking about the topic of leadership right now, let’s consider these quotes from President Thomas Jefferson. Chances are, there is at least one little pearl of wisdom here that will mean something to you right now in terms of your own life and work.
- “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”
- “It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.”
- “The wise know their weakness too well to assume infallibility; and he who knows most, knows best how little he knows.”
- “Never spend your money before you have earned it.”
- “The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory.”
- “An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.”
- “Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.”
- “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”
- “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”
- “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
- “When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.”
- “A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.”
- “Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind.”
- “Of the various Executive duties, no one excites more anxious concern than that of placing the interests of our fellow citizens in the hands of honest men, with understandings sufficient for their station. No duty, at the same time, is more difficult to fulfill.”
- “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”
For more information about Thomas Jefferson or other former U.S. presidents, check out The Presidents on Whitehouse.gov.
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