19 – Shoulders of Giants

“Bernard of Chartres used to compare us to dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.”
John of Salisbury, 1159 AD, Metalogicon

One constant in leadership and succession is respect for those who have held office before us. This applies to any position of employment and can help bring peace to a community dissatisfied with a leader of the past.

Revolutionaries, dictators, pharaohs, caesars, and emperors who despise previous establishments quickly sink in quagmires. While the past may be despicable, it was responsible for bringing you to where you are. Don’t despise it, just move forward and let history have its word in the annals.

The Fourth Commandment, to honor father and mother, includes so that your life may be long—respecting predecessors. David respected Saul. Jesus visited the temple and held a cordial courtesy even with the Pharisees. The Pilgrims and the Patriots of early America respected England in their ventures and separations. Look through history and you will find that fortune favors the respectful in many things, including where succession is concerned.

Leaders can be terrible at times. They will answer to God for bad stewardship, incompetence, and lack of love. But, they often accomplish things that the next generation can benefit from, if nothing other than rising stock value as the company gets back on track. Consider the departure of a bad CEO a fruitful investment opportunity; capitalize on his folly and let your thanks be your soft insult.

Bad parents are quite common, especially when absent or abusive. Learn what you can. Don’t excuse them, but don’t expect perfection from them either. Lowering your expectation of others does justice for you, them, and the entire situation. They get properly labeled, you release your burden of faulting another, and the future can open up.

If you have no objections to the past then you aren’t looking honestly enough. When you find fault, don’t let it consume you. Forgive and thank as needed, include them in the public memoirs, and then charge forward. Ancestors surely would have done more had they been so able and would salute our progress. The past was intended to be exceeded from the Beginning.

If you can look at your predecessors and find anything good to celebrate, your time at the helm will prosper and history will celebrate your voyage.

Exodus 20:12, 1 Samuel 24, 26, 31, Proverbs 22:28, Luke 2:41-52; 14:1-7