The Penalty of Leadership
In every field of endeavour, he that is in First, must constantly live in the white light of publicity.
Whether the leadership is vested in a 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, fierce denial and detraction.
When a man’s work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few.
If his work be merely mediocre, he will be left severely alone-if he achieved a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues a-wagging.
Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a common-place painting. Whatsoever you write, paint, play, sing or build no one will strive to surpass or to slander you, unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius.
Long, long after a great work or a good work has been done, those who are disappointed or envious continue to cry out that it cannot be done.
Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner, while a 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 river banks to see his boat steam by.
The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership.
Failing to equal or to excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and 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 old as human passions, envy, fear, greed, ambition and the desire to surpass.
And it avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains the 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 makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamour of denial.
That which deserves to live LIVES.
Theodore F. McManus Saturday Evening Post, Jan 2, 1915