Regardless of your political stance, you’ve got to agree that being the president of the United States is a mostly thankless job. No matter what you do, at least half of the country is going to disagree. It’s no wonder that most presidents look like they age twice as fast while they’re in office.
That’s why we thought we would stop for a minute to appreciate some of the wise advice about leadership in life and finances that we’ve received from our presidents.
"To contract new debts is not the way to pay old ones."
George Washington wrote this truth in a letter nearly 240 years ago, but our modern government still doesn’t get it. Of course, the world is a different place now and things have changed, but this one truth about money still stands: You’ll never improve your financial situation by robbing Peter to pay Paul.
"Never spend your money before you have it.”
This advice came from Thomas Jefferson’s “A Dozen Canons of Conduct in Life.” The irony here is that Thomas Jefferson died with a lot of debt (although much of it was inherited from his father-in-law). However, the advice is solid, and it basically sounds like something you might hear on The Dave Ramsey Show every single day.
"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing."
Was Honest Abe talking about living intentionally by setting goals? We’d like to think so. If you want to succeed, you’ll succeed. If you just kind of, sort of want to succeed, then you’ll never get out of debt, find your dream job, or finally write that book.
"A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his."
This was one of Reagan’s slogans during his 1980 presidential campaign. Politics aside, it’s pretty funny. But it also points to a greater truth—everyone around us might be in a financial mess, but it doesn’t hit home until it affects us personally.
John F. Kennedy
“No matter how big the lie, repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.”
That’s exactly why our culture has embraced credit cards and debt. We’ve been sold debt for so long that we’ve come to believe it’s just a way of life. But if you’ve taken Financial Peace University, and if you’ve figured out that you can live without debt, then you know that’s just not the case. JFK wasn’t talking about debt when he made that statement, but the principle still holds true.
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
Dave Ramsey always says that the average millionaire reads one nonfiction book a month. The point is that leaders spend time learning and growing as leaders. They don’t sit and wait for the world to come to them. They go out and get it. No matter what you do—whether you’re a corporate CEO, an unpaid intern or a stay-at-home mom—reading is an extremely important part of a healthy lifestyle. (What else makes leaders great? Find out what the five charactersitics of a Godly leader are.)
We can learn something from all of our presidents, whether we like their politics or not. If you're looking for more inspiration, read about 15 lessons in leadership from Nelson Mandela.