The George H.W. Bush Quote They’re Getting Wrong

I’ve seen a George H.W. Bush quote floating around on the Internet that completely misses the point.

Former President George Bush didn’t say, “I think history will point out some of the things I did and some of the things I did right.” At least he didn’t say it during his interview with his granddaughter Jenna Bush Hagar on the Today Show that aired on NBC, 12/3/2018..

The actual quote:

Jenna asked, “What do you want your legacy to be?”

Bush replied, “I want someone else to define the legacy. I’ve kind of banned the use of the “L” word – legacy word.”

Bush continued, “I think history will point out some of the things I did wrong and perhaps some of the things we did right.”

The shift:

Did you notice the simple shift in pronoun?

The shift from “I” to “we” rolled easy from the former President’s lips. “… I did wrong,” shifts to “… we did right.” It’s a shift all leaders would do well to embrace.

When it comes to failure, be like President Bush. Use “I.” When it comes to success, use “we.”

  •  “I” reflects personal responsibility.
  • “We” respects others.

The shift from “I” to “we” is the heart of humble leadership. A side benefit of taking responsibility is trust.

What’s important about taking responsibility, even when others screw up?

What’s the difference between taking responsibility for failure and dealing with other people’s mistakes?