Each week we look at one of four qualities necessary to succeed in public life, all of which come from a speech then President-elect John F Kennedy gave to the Massachusetts legislature on January 9, 1961. “Were we truly men of courage,” Kennedy said posterity would ask about us, “with the courage to stand up to one’s enemies – and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one’s associates – the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?”
We would hope that the courage to resist private greed is a given amongst applicants to The Courvoisier The Future 500. Other forms of courage are more pressing; not just to stand up to one’s enemies, but more generally in the face of adversity. It is easy to make bold pronouncements when backed by a well-resourced organisation and a large body of public opinion. It is far less easy to be courageous when funds are precarious and one is speaking against the received view. Yet the people who dare to do so are the ones who will make a difference, whether they are starting a refuge for victims of domestic violence in a highly old-fashioned and patriarchal community, presenting unwelcome findings on climate change, or fighting for unfashionable and under-funded causes. Courage should not give way to rashness. But great leaders in politics and public life have always known the difference.
You could be part of Courvoisier The Future 500, a definitive list of the country’s successful young achievers across 10 wide-ranging categories.
The New Statesman invites you to nominate yourself in the Public Life category – or to tell a friend – click here to nominate
Is courage an essential quality for success in public life? Tell us your thoughts below.