Individual Rights vs. Common Good

There has always been a tension in the American character between individual rights and the common good. While we’ve loved and admired John Wayne striking out on his own with just a horse and a rifle, we’ve also known that the wagon train couldn’t make it across the plains unless we all stuck together. So writes Walter Bennis in On Becoming a Leader.

In the early 1800’s President James Madison wrote, “The public good, the real welfare of the great body of people, is the supreme object to be pursued.” A hundred years later President Coolidge said, “The business of America is business,” and hardly anyone disagreed.

Short term thinking and instant gratification is not the thinking or strategy of a true leader. And this holds true if you lead a large corporation, a non-profit, a small business, a family or yourself.


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