You’re Never Too Old to Lead

Imagine that you are Ronald Reagan when he was 65 years old. You have just spent the last 20 years of your life dedicated to implementing a policy of political leadership that you believe will help your country and the world. All of your efforts to touch hearts and garner support for your vision comes down to a single vote at the national convention in 1976. The vote is 1,187 to 1,070 … and you lose.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan holding hands and smiling at Camp David
Ronald Reagan at Camp David with Nancy Reagan, Photo courtesy of Ronald Reagan Library

Smile When They Say You’re Too Old to Lead

Excerpt from Lead Like Reagan – Principles of Dynamic Leadership:
One of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson is when he said, ‘We should never judge a president by his age, but by his acts.’ And ever since he told me that…

                           – Ronald Reagan, Annual Salute to Congress Dinner, February 1981.

Losing the Primary at Age 65

This is what happened to Ronald Reagan. He had just lost the convention vote to be the nominee for president of the United States to incumbent president Gerald Ford. He was 65 years old and had the financial security to retire in style. He had a large family, lots of friends, good health and many interests. He loved to spend time on his beautiful ranch in California, riding horses and working chores. I often wonder if Ronald Reagan was tempted to ride off into the sunset and spend the rest of his days in well-earned retirement.

Where is Your Rancho del Cielo?

Rawhide! President Ronald Reagan loved working with his hands, and being outdoors. And, you can see from this photo, taken at Camp David in November of 1981, that he loved to ride horses.

10/10/1981 President Reagan horseback riding at Camp David Maryland. Attached to a blog post by Garrett Scanlon: Where is your Rancho del Cielo?

Photo Courtesy of Ronald Reagan Library

“I’ve often said, there’s nothing better for the inside of a man, than the outside of a horse.”

 – Ronald Reagan on many occasions.

Excerpt from Lead Like Reagan – Principles of Dynamic Leadership

Rancho del Cielo

This picture of Reagan was taken 7 months after the 70-year old entered George Washington University Hospital to have a would-be-assassin’s bullet removed from his chest. Horseback riding at Camp David was therapeutic for Ronald Reagan. But, Rancho del Cielo was his true sanctuary.

He called it his “Cathedral in the Sky” (Rancho del Cielo is Spanish for Sky’s Ranch, or Heaven’s Ranch).  It is where he could sort out problems while riding his favorite seventeen-hands-high

Be Described A Gentleman

Image of Ronald Reagan in a tan suit walking and waving to the crowd. The president would always be described as a gentleman.

Photo courtesy of Ronald Reagan Library

Be Described a Gentleman is an excerpt from Lead Like Reagan, Principles of Dynamic Leadership
In doing research for my book on the leadership style of Ronald Reagan, time and time again I recognized in Reagan some of the same strengths and attributes I saw in my father, James Scanlon. They were both gentlemen.

Those who were closest to Ronald Reagan are very consistent in the words they choose to describe the type of person he was, and the type of person he was not. There seems to be a wide consensus of what Ronald Reagan was not, by those who worked with him, wrote about him, protected him, fought for him, and lived with him. Ronald Reagan was:

Jellybeans!

Jellybeans!

As cabinet members and advisors debated various issues, there was a reason why Ronald Reagan reached for the jellybeans.

Photo of jellybeans of dozens of different flavors and colors

It was Reagan’s management style to listen to his advisors argue all sides of an issue. With no shortage of egos among these strong-willed and talented people, things could sometimes get heated during these discussions and debates. At these moments, Reagan was likely to sift through the assorted jellybeans searching for his favorite flavor, licorice.