“And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for eight years did the work that brought America back. My friends, we did it. We weren’t just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.”
– Ronald Reagan, January 1989 Farewell Address to the Nation.
Ronald Reagan also included a warning for America in his 1989 Farewell Address.
Holding Temporary Custody
We see a glimpse of Reagan’s extraordinary humility in the multiple use of the word ‘we’, when we listen to him describe his thoughts on what was termed The Reagan Revolution. Reagan rarely liked to talk about about his success. He was much more comfortable talking about the successes of other people. He didn’t look upon himself as becoming president of the United States, but rather as having been given the honor of overseeing temporary custody of the institution of the presidency. This is a subtle, but important difference in perspective.
Isn’t it the same for us? Don’t we just have temporary custody of the leadership positions that are entrusted to us by our family, our group, or our company?
In Your Custody
You might have temporary custody as:
- Head coach of your kid’s little league baseball team,
- Construction supervisor for the new office building downtown, or
- Principal of the local high school.
Will you have just passed through?
When your tenure is over, will you have just passed through, or will you have made a difference? Will your players, subcontractors, and students be better off as a result of your leadership?
Reagan’s example suggests that you should not view your time at the helm as just an interval, but instead, should use your unique talents and vision to start a new beginning. Don’t just pass through.
At his commencement address at Eureka College in 1992, Reagan reminded us to:
“Live each day to the fullest. Live each day with enthusiasm, optimism, and hope. If you do, I am convinced that your contribution to this wonderful experiment we call America will be profound.”