The Penalty of Leadership


In every field of human endeavor, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership is vested in man or a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work.

In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same. The reward is widespread recognition; the punishment, the fierce denial and detraction.

When a man’s work becomes the standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few. If his work is merely mediocre, he will be left severely alone, if he achieves a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues a-wagging.

Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a commonplace painting. Whatsoever you write, or paint, or play, or sing, or build, no one will strive to surpass, or to slander you, unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius.

Multitudes flocked to the Bayreuth to worship at the shrine of Wagner, while the little group of those whom he had dethroned and displaced argued angrily that he was no musician at all.

The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat, while the big world flocked to the riverbanks to see his boat steam by. The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and the effort to equal him is merely proof of that leadership.

Failing to equal or excel, the follower seeks to deprecate and to destroy- but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. There is nothing new in this.

It is as old as the world and as the human passions-envy, fear, greed, ambition and the desire to surpass. And it all avails nothing.

If the leader truly leads, he remains-a leader. Master-poet, master painter, master workman, each in his turn is assailed, and each holds his laurels through the ages.

That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live - lives.

This was published following the introduction of the first production V-8 engine, which was standard in all Cadillacs beginning in the 1915 model.

Copyright: Cadillac Motor Car Co. Detroit, MI

Published in the Saturday Evening Post January 2nd 1915

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