John W. Gardner (1912-2002)
American politician and writer (pictured right) who was President Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Health,
Education and Welfare from 1965 to 1968.
The success of a country and its people depends on:
- the pursuit of excellence in any activity, however humble.
- talent combined with character, motivation, self-discipline, confidence, lifelong learning
and constant striving for worthwhile objectives.
- shared values with common aims.
Key quote on success
An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher.
Life should be an endless process of self-discovery and learning from your successes and failures through:
- being interested and curious in the world around you.
- creating a better future through tough minded optimism – believe in yourself to overcome failures and
- constantly challenging your habits, attitudes and beliefs (don’t be imprisoned by them and avoid
- continuously re-examining your aims – you may be working hard in the wrong direction.
Key quote on learning
We have to face the fact that most men and women out there are more stale than they know, more bored than they
care to admit.
On Leadership (1990)
The best leaders inspire people to achieve great results through:
- continuous learning, self-renewal and improvement.
- shared values, beliefs and vision for the future.
- mutual trust and building people’s confidence.
- sharing power and information.
- resolving conflict and two-way communication.
Key quote on leadership
The purpose of leaders is not to dominate nor diminish followers but to strengthen and help them to develop.