Andrew Jackson was our 7th President. His Dad died the year he was born. Mom died after retrieving Andrew and his cousin from a British Prison Camp during our Revolutionary War. He felt the sting of loss. He fought as a thirteen year old in that war and as a General in the War of 1812. He tasted sweet victories. He won the popular election in 1824 but didn’t have the necessary Electoral College majority. So, the contest would end up being decided by the House of Representatives.
He would lose.
He would live and learn. Jackson’s favorite book was authored by a woman, Jane Porter and was titled, The Scottish Chiefs. Jackson was of Scots/Irish heritage and identified with the books main character, a guy called William Wallace (think Braveheart here). Our 7th President was a conflicted character. He accomplished much and missed the mark. The “shoot in his eyes” was on the mark. His shots toward the Indians missed by a mile. He is worth studying and learning from. I highly recommend Jon Meacham’s book titled American Lion as well as Andrew Jackson, by E.W. Brands. They offer similar yet distinct perspectives on “Old Hickory.” Here’s an excerpt from page fourteen of American Lion. This is the last communication from Elisabeth Jackson to her son Andrew, age fourteen. Here it is.
“Andrew, if I should not see you again, I wish you to remember and treasure up some things I have already said to you: in this world you will have to make your own way. To do that you must have friends. You can make friends by being honest, and you can keep them by being steadfast. You must keep in mind that friends worth having will in the long run expect as much from you as they give you. To forget an obligation or be ungrateful for a kindness is a base crime – not merely a fault or sin, but an actual crime. Men guilty of it sooner or later must suffer the penalty. In personal conduct be always polite but never obsequious. None will respect you more than you respect yourself. Avoid quarrels as long as you can without yielding to imposition. But sustain your manhood always. Never bring a suit in law for assault and battery or for defamation. The law affords no remedy for such outrages that can satisfy the feelings of a true man. Never wound the feelings of others. Never brook wanton outrage upon your own feelings. If you ever have to vindicate your feelings or defend you honor, do it calmly. If angry at first, wait till your wrath cools before you proceed.”
Men and women, like Elisabeth, are beside every transformational leader. Leaders are not meant to go it a lone. We all need someone to love us enough to help us become all one. Who builds you? Who challenges you? Who writes you truth in love like Elisabeth wrote to Old Hickory? And, leader, who are you pouring yourself into? Leaders build leaders, you know. Slow down. Reflect. Write. Take a minute and write a letter to a leader who has poured into you. Give and take care, you know. Normal humans keep score. BTL Leaders give more. You?
Live hard. Love harder…