How to Get Things Done in a Presidential Fashion

Presidents’ Day is this Monday, which means it’s the perfect time to look back on how some of the greatest people this country has known got things done. Here are ten of our favorite tips from former U.S. presidents.

10. Embrace Change

As humans, we really fear change. We struggle to change habits, reform our financial lives, and are deathly afraid of failure. Presidents do not have the luxury of being afraid of change. They need to hold multiple points of view in their head in order to solve the problems of future generations and their own.

Presidents have to navigate change, so it’s no surprise they have plenty of advice on it. Few lived in a time of as much change as John F. Kennedy, who once said:

But Goethe tells us in his greatest poem that Faust lost the liberty of his soul when he said to the passing moment: “Stay, thou art so fair.” And our liberty, too, is endangered if we pause for the passing moment, if we rest on our achievements, if we resist the pace of progress. For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.

Of course, while it’s important to learn from past mistakes, nostalgia for the past can be a boring, manipulative emotion that blinds you to the needs of the future.

9. Take a Breath Before Replying When You’re Angry

Most of us have no qualms shooting our mouth off at the faintest hint of something we disagree with, but that’s a stupid idea. If a president did this, they’d find themselves in some awkward situations.

To keep himself from firing off some stupid comment, Thomas Jefferson gave himself some rules. In Decalogue of Canons for Observation in Practical Life, Jefferson had a whole slew of tips for better living, most notably,“When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.” We’ve heard the idea of waiting five minutes before responding to criticism before, and it’s always worth repeating.

Other worthwhile tips from Jefferson’s letter include, “never spend your money before you have it,” “pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold,” and rather curiously, “take things always by their smooth handle.”

8. Simplify Your Presentations

Nobody likes a rambling presentation devoid of meaningful points. While we know that good public speaking requires preparation, Woodrow Wilson reminds us that it also needs precision.

A shorter speech seems easier to write, but it’s more a sign that a lot of work went into it. Short speeches are a sign of strength and preparation, something that Woodrow Wilson knew better than most. He once said, “If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”

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SOURCE: Thorin Klosowski