Advice from the past: John Quincy Adams and Leadership by Example

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
– John Quincy Adams

Words of wisdom from John Quincy Adams, a diplomat, statesman, minister, ambassador to foreign nations, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative from Massachusetts, and sixth president of the United States from 1825 to 1829, and the first president to be the son of a president.

With a nation experiencing natural growing pains, President Adams urged the country to take the lead in arts and sciences through establishing a national university, financing scientific expeditions, and constructing an observatory. He proposed a network of canals and highways to bring the country together, breaking ground of the 185-mile C&O Canal in 1828. He recommended a plan to preserve and develop the public domain.

While he was defeated in the campaign of 1828, he was elected in Plymouth district in 1830 and served as a powerful leader, champion of civil liberties, for the rest of his life.

Adams said, “Dream more.” His dreams transcended the chaos of the nation so very early in its evolution, with grand plans for improving lives, connecting communities, fostering art, encouraging scientific research. Leaders dream. They dream big and encourage those around them to dream bigger!

He said, “Learn more.” Leaders learn every day. They give their teams opportunities to learn. They offer guidance, training, coaching. They take advantage of those opportunities when given them. They encourage mentoring. Every opportunity to learn is a gift and leaders give that gift to themselves and to others.

He said, “Do more.” Adams didn’t let his detractors stop his progress to make positive change. When they shook their heads, he put his down and kept going. Leaders lead by example. They do. They do more than anyone else, and that encourages those around them to do more.

Adams said, “Become more.” Adams was a continuous learner, something we’ve talked about before and believe in wholeheartedly. Leaders learn, on every front. Personal growth, whether through education, spirituality, meditation, and even exercise gives us the experience, knowledge and persistence to become more than who we are today.

In each of these statements, Adams has given us the gift of a guide for inspiring others to exceed their own expectations every day. These are simple practices we can incorporate daily to demonstrate that we are leaders and to encourage those around us to aspire to greatness.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.