For my blog post today about Conrad Black's Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, I will use as my starting-point something that Black says on page 614. The context is the aftermath of a June 10, 1969 press conference that Nixon gave about the Vietnam War.
"It was a very strong
performance, and Nixon engaged in what would become a drearily
predictable habit: telephoning supporters to a late hour asking them how
they thought he had done. It is astonishing that a man of Nixon's
intelligence would not realize how this demonstrable insecurity, when
all he had to do was wait for a few hours and he would learn how people
thought he had done, would undermine the confidence of his staff."
are we doing? Many of us would like to receive positive feedback, or
some indication that we are on the right track. Sometimes, we get that
in this world. At other times, we don't, and we're left wondering how
exactly we are doing, and what we can do better. I don't think that
Nixon was always paralyzed by insecurity about how he was doing. When
he was a Congressman investigating the Alger Hiss case, for example, he
just did the work that he needed to do, even though he did not know what
the exact outcome would be in terms of his own political career. (Even
Roger Morris, who is quite critical of Nixon, acknowledges this.)
That's a good rule of thumb: just keep on doing the work, sowing the
seeds, hoping that there will be a harvest. If you try, you may or may
not succeed; if you don't try, you won't succeed. While being a
self-starter is commendable, though, it's still nice to get a pat on the
back, every once in a while.