Tag Archives: presidents day

Viewpoints from presidents

integrity presidentsHappy Presidents’ Day! Last Thursday, I was having lunch with some colleagues from our colleges and universities. Since it was right after the New Hampshire primary, some of our conversation turned to the current presidential race.

Several colleagues remarked about the frontrunners in the presidential race and expressed amazement that the two non-establishment candidates, with some of the most extreme viewpoints, have the most support. Another colleague said she thought they have more support because people trust that “what you see is what you get.” Those candidates don’t seem to be hiding anything or spinning their messages to satisfy constituents. Their behavior and messages are congruent and in that sense, have integrity. Interesting thought….

For your edification, I thought I’d collect some quotes from various presidents throughout history that shine a light on the importance of integrity in leadership. Enjoy and have a terrific Presidents Day!

“Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” – George Washington

“It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.” – Martin Van Buren

“An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory.” – Millard Fillmore

“My failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent.” –  Ulysses S. Grant

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“Character is the only secure foundation of the state.” – John Calvin Coolidge

“Above all, tell the truth.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“That’s all a man can  hope for during his lifetime – to set an example-and when he is dead, to be an inspiration for history.” – William McKinley

“A splendid storehouse of integrity and freedom has been bequeathed to us by our forefathers. In this day of confusion, of peril to liberty, our high duty is to see that this storehouse is not robbed of its contents.” – Herbert Hoover

“A president’s hardest task is not to do what is right, but to know what is right.” – Lyndon Baines Johnson

“We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.” – Jimmy Carter

“If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.” – Bill Clinton

Anita Rios


Be courageous

declarationOn this President’s Day, I’m reminded of our founding fathers and the courageous act of creating and ratifying the Declaration of Independence.  The Declaration announced that the thirteen American colonies were no longer a part of the British Empire, but formed a union to become a new nation. This was a bold move on the part of American leaders at the time because the declaration stated that authority to govern belonged to the people, rather than to kings, and that all people are created equal and have rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Quite a revolutionary idea in those times! Every U.S. citizen should be familiar with at least this part of the Declaration, which asserted a new future for people living in the American colonies:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”

This was a time of great change for the American colonies, where leaders created a new vision for the future. What new vision are you trying to achieve? Taking a page from our founding fathers, what courageous actions might you need to take to achieve that vision?

Anita Rios

Insights from Lincoln


“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” 

Abraham Lincoln

To recognize President’s Day, here is a quote from Abraham Lincoln.

This quote certainly fits with Todd’s post on how we all cast leadership shadows with each small action. Our reputation is built on the actions people see.

I need to ask the character question: does my behavior line up with the values I hold most dear? Do my actions show that my character is the real thing?

Anita Rios