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 be vested in a man or in 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 manís work becomes a 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 achieve a masterpiece it will set a million tongues awagging.
Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who
produces a common-place 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
Long after a great work has been done,
those who are disappointed or envious continue to cry out that it
cannot be done. Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were
raised against our own Whistler as a mountebank, long after the big
world had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes
flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical 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 river banks to see his boat steam
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 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 old as the human
passions of envy, fear, greed, ambition, and the desire to surpass.
And it all 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 great makes itself known, no
matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live,
This text, penned by DMB&B
founder Theodore MacManus appeared as an advertisement in the
Saturday Evening Post, January 2, 1915. It is considered some of the
best advertising prose of all time...
Motor Car Division. Framework courtesy of