Lessons From Nixon

October 26, 2016
3 mins read

nixon
This is the first article in an intended series that considers life lessons that can be learned from the 37th President of the United States, Richard Nixon. While he is primarily remembered for a tainted legacy, due to the Watergate scandal, Nixon was actually a savvy leader, who produced some impressive accomplishments. Certainly, he was a flawed man, as we all are, but he overcame poverty and difficult odds, using his innate skills to succeed. Most impressively, he refused to allow his own introverted personality to hinder his meteoric rise in the political arena. So periodically, this column will look at some aspects of Nixon’s policies, speeches, and life, and try to discern some valuable insights that can be used to advance the culture of the Man of the West.

Coming from a poor family, losing a brother to illness at a young age, and reaching adulthood in the early years of the Great Depression did not stop Nixon from focusing on what he believed needed to be done, both in his personal life and in politics. Throughout his life, he tended to take the side of the common man, when those of means were in opposition. Perhaps his background caused him to feel inadequate in some ways, but rather than wallow in those inadequacies, he used them as motivation.

Nixon once pointed out how this motivated him: “…what starts the process really are laughs and slights and snubs when you are a kid…But if you are reasonably intelligent and if your anger is deep enough and strong enough, you learn that you can change those attitudes by excellence, personal gut performance, while those who have everything are sitting on their fat butts…”

Within that quote are four pertinent points. First, undergoing negative experiences as a young person can serve as a catalyst for change. Note the implied corollary – you can just accept those laughs, slights and snubs. If you want to stay down, then you can choose to do so. For Nixon, and a true Man of the West, those things should not be taken sitting down. Build upon the anger produced. Use your intelligence, coupled with the strong emotional response, and force change. Make it happen.

Second, do not be satisfied with your current knowledge level. See how he refers to the fact that you can “learn that you can change those attitudes…” You may be intelligent, but do not limit your native brilliance with ignorance. Read good books (or websites, etc.). Enhance your knowledge base and learn how to apply it. Relating this to the first point, you may not initially know how to force change, but by learning and growing, you can figure it out.

Third, whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability. Nixon refers to “excellence” and “personal gut performance.” It is not easy to prompt change. Inertia is a real thing. Objects at rest tend to want to remain at rest, until an outside force is applied. It takes energy to start the ball rolling. So whatever you are going to do, do it with all your might, but do it efficiently. Do it right the first time. When you are tired and worn down, reach down inside yourself, find that extra “oomph” and keep going. The prize goes to the man who stands at the end, and winners are produced by digging deep. Gut performance should never be underestimated.

Fourth, realize that those on the top are comfortable. They do not want to see change, so they see little need to do much of anything. Remember inertia? They like things to remain inert. It takes no energy to do nothing, and that is what many who oppose Western Culture do. They believe that things are already going their way. They have neither the intestinal fortitude, nor the mental clarity, to get much done. That provides us an opening, if we will just get busy.

So what do we learn from Nixon? In this one short passage, we learn plenty. We learn key concepts for success. Take your experience, even if it has been negative, and use it as motivation to force change on a fallen world. Continue to learn and develop. Take your natural talents and enhance them. Using those skills, use your motivation to accomplish your goals. When you are tired and see no light at the end of the tunnel, reach down and keep on working. Winning often happens in a hurry, so put yourself in position to grasp it. Take advantage of your slumbering opponent. They are not on the cutting edge of anything. They are from the past and want to stay there. Make sure they do.

Lead Scheduler at MOTW. Husband, Father, but most importantly, a man of God. Possesses more degrees that most people find useful.

11 Comments

  1. I am curious why you chose Nixon for this series. I am looking forward to this series but, why did you choose Nixon?

    • Because Nixon was competent, fought adversity, and threatened the powers sufficiently to be taken down. Then resurrected himself after Watergate to be a man of influence.
      He is an American Lear: with more time to forgive and repair.

      • I agree. While certainly not perfect, and there are several of his policies with which I have problems (EPA anyone?), for his time and place, he was a good leader, who has much to still teach us.

  2. Although he advocated a lot of policies that I disagreed with, Nixon can be a good role model in many ways.Nixon was always disliked by the elites because he didn’t attend the Ivy League and went after a patrician, Communist spy, Alger Hiss, very early in his career.

    • I am the same. I do like Nixon quite a bit, though some of his policies were bonkers (I mentioned the EPA above, so how about the whole “We are all Keynesians now” crap? Still, on the whole, there is much about the man that we can consider and learn from.

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