Thursday, February 21, 2013

Leaders: avoid overexposure

Leaders know they need to avoid overexposure. I thought this was primarily a feature of the modern media-driven age, but here is Shakespeare on the topic:

    Had I so lavish of my presence been, 
    So common-hackney'd in the eyes of men, 
    So stale and cheap to vulgar company, 
    Opinion, that did help me to the crown, 
    Had still kept loyal to possession 
    And left me in reputeless banishment, 
    A fellow of no mark nor likelihood. 
    By being seldom seen, I could not stir 
    But like a comet I was wonder'd at; 
    That men would tell their children 'This is he;' 
    Others would say 'Where, which is Bolingbroke?' 
    And then I stole all courtesy from heaven, 
    And dress'd myself in such humility 
    That I did pluck allegiance from men's hearts, 
    Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths, 
    Even in the presence of the crowned king. 
    Thus did I keep my person fresh and new; 
    My presence, like a robe pontifical, 
    Ne'er seen but wonder'd at: and so my state, 
    Seldom but sumptuous, showed like a feast 
    And won by rareness such solemnity. 
    The skipping king, he ambled up and down 
    With shallow jesters and rash bavin wits, 
    Soon kindled and soon burnt; carded his state, 
    Mingled his royalty with capering fools, 
    Had his great name profaned with their scorns 
    And gave his countenance, against his name, 
    To laugh at gibing boys and stand the push 
    Of every beardless vain comparative, 
    Grew a companion to the common streets, 
    Enfeoff'd himself to popularity; 
    That, being daily swallow'd by men's eyes, 
    They surfeited with honey and began 
    To loathe the taste of sweetness, whereof a little 
    More than a little is by much too much. 
    So when he had occasion to be seen, 
    He was but as the cuckoo is in June, 
    Heard, not regarded; seen, but with such eyes 
    As, sick and blunted with community, 
    Afford no extraordinary gaze, 
    Such as is bent on sun-like majesty 
    When it shines seldom in admiring eyes; 
    But rather drowzed and hung their eyelids down, 
    Slept in his face and render'd such aspect 
    As cloudy men use to their adversaries, 
    Being with his presence glutted, gorged and full. 

Henry IV, Act 3, Scene 2 

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