Tag Archives: David McCullough

Your Upbringing Can Bring You Down

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to become more aware of your personal instinctive behavior. Reading time: 3:42

     “I’m from the South.
Flirting is part
of my heritage.”

–Blanche, The Golden Girls

Blanche (in yellow) and the Golden Girls

Blanche (in yellow) and the Golden Girls

       Blanche reminds us that our heritage casts a large shadow no matter what role you are playing: lover or leader.

      Your heritage shapes your instinctive behavior. And sometimes, a leader can get too comfortable in his or her own skin, and too loose in his or her own tongue.

     S/he can inadvertently say something –instinctively,  something that rolls off the tongue naturally and innocently– even though it could be offensive to others no matter how customary and non threatening it is to you.

      Even Presidents of the United States of America are not immune to the foot-in-mouth disease even if they are unaware how they contracted it and how they are propagating it.

     Indeed, our assimilated environment influences the way we talk (accent) and even fosters and nurtures the blind spots we develop in listening and interacting naturally to  other like-minded people over time in the same geographic area.

     Consider President Harry S Truman. He was born and raised in the South 20 years after the Civil War.  Even as president he would privately and inadvertently refer to “niggers,” according to historian David McCullough on page 588 of his biography on Truman.

        “On racial matters, Truman had not entirely outgrown his background. Old biases, old habits of speech continued surfacing off-stage as some of his aides and Secret Service agents would later attest. Privately, he could still speak of ‘niggers’ as if that were the way one naturally referred to blacks,” McCullough observed. Continue reading

Beware of Breathing Your Own Exhaust

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to check your ego to become more productive. Reading time: 2:06.

adams             The next time you’re stuck in a meeting where the words are flying hot and heavy –more on egos and arrogance than on facts and figures —take a deep breath.

            You’re not alone.

             Bombast and bravura seemingly have always exploded when the best and the brightest convene. Yet the most effective leaders stay alert to keep from the breathing their own exhaust.

              Consider John Adams attending the First Continental Congress that  met in 1774 in Philadelphia.  Adams soon felt a lot of hot air blowing particularly INSIDE.

       The bluster  and the braggadocio of most of the 54 delegates– who all thought they each were the smartest in the room — whipped in every speech even on the most mundane of issues. That grandstanding made Adams very uncomfortable, according to historian David McCullough’s biography of John Adams.

       In a letter to his wife Abigale, John Adams is both amazed and appalled at the assembly of the best and brightest –the framers that would begin building the framework for what would become  two years later the United States of America.

         “This assembly is like no other that even existed,” Adams tells his wife Abigale. “Every man in it is a great man—an orator, a critic, a statesman, and therefore EVERY man upon EVERY question must show his oratory, his criticism, and his political abilities. Continue reading