John F. Kennedy on Leadership: The Lessons and Legacy of a President

By John A. Barnes | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 2
Breaking the Rules:
Question the Status Quo

“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because it
is the quality which guarantees all others.”

—WINSTON CHURCHILL

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom, and the enemy of growth.”

—JOHN F. KENNEDY

Part of being a leader is not to follow blindly. A leader is someone who evaluates the “way things are done” and determines whether they are the way things should be done. Leaders are not afraid to challenge the status quo if necessary or to strike out on a new path. John Kennedy was encouraged to question authority and stir things up even as a child, and he carried this trait with him throughout his life. He was not afraid to challenge authority or to break the rules, and this confidence originating in his childhood was able to help him make significant changes as president.

At Choate, the elite boarding school JFK attended in Connecticut, Jack's older brother, Joe Jr., was a standout athlete and good student, winning praise from George St. John, the school's intimidating headmaster. Jack's grades were middling (though he did well in English and history), and he didn't play sports. And for the school's many rules and regulations, he had little use.

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