Performance Perspectives Blog

Patrick Henry as a model

by | Jan 31, 2011

I have always enjoyed history; so much so that when I went to college there were only two subjects I considered majoring in: math and history. I chose math because I thought there were greater prospects for jobs with this major, though I have continued to support my love of history through reading and occasional tours of various historical sites. And this past Christmas I asked for a few biographies (one of my favorite types of books to read) and one was Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation by Harlow Giles Unger. Although I, as most Americans, knew him for his famous “give me liberty or give me death” speech, I hadn’t realized what a powerful figure he was during the American Revolution.

You may recall that after we won our independence we created a government based on the Articles of Confederation. However, because of its lack of power at the central government level, there was a move to make a change, which resulted in our Constitution. However, Henry, an anti-Federalist (i.e., a strong supporter of “states rights”) voiced exceptionally strong opposition to it. When the matter was discussed in his home state of Virginia, he spoke often and at great length against the problems that he foresaw. You can imagine that he wasn’t too popular among a number of those who felt that a change was needed, including his fellow Virginian George Washington.

Change is often difficult. And when ideas are put forth for public review and comment, the document’s framers are sometimes upset with the lack of support they fully expected. I know from comments I received that my not too subtle opposition to some of what was proposed in the GIPS(R) (Global Investment Performance Standards) 2010 exposure draft wasn’t well received by some. I never doubted that those involved had the best interests of our industry at heart. We are fortunate to have an Executive Committee made up primarily of volunteers who devote many, many hours for the benefit of the industry at large. But anyone who enters the public eye is open to criticism, as well as support.

As a former elected official I know too well how my actions often engendered negative responses, sometimes biased as a result of being a member of a different party, but also often because of sheer disagreement. I recall for example how we had a plan to rezone one parcel of land in our town to develop a shopping center. We were confronted by many upset residents who found disagreement with our plans. As a result of their arguments we learned somethings which we were not previously aware of, and totally altered our plans (obviously to the dismay of the developers).

One of the “seven deadly sins” is pride, and no doubt “pride of authorship” is only one example of how this sin can be manifested. As one who does a great deal of writing, I learned a very long time ago that such an attitude about my writing would be a huge problem. This should extend to ideas, too. But we who criticize should also be sensitive to those we offer our comments  too, again recognizing that their motivations are well placed. While we may not always agree with the outcome, we should always be respectful of those who crafted what they deliver.