I was reading TIME magazine’s profile on Robert Gates when this paragraph and its last quote just jumped out at me.
The public saw only the poker face. " ‘Never let them see you sweat’ — you can put that above Gates’ door," says Richard Armitage, an old friend and colleague. Four years later, while serving as Deputy National Security Adviser under President George H.W. Bush, Gates was nominated again to be DCI. What followed was one of the longest and most bitter confirmation hearings in Senate records. CIA co-workers from the Soviet desk excoriated his character, his motives, his honesty. They called him a toady who’d fire dissenters and slant intelligence just to please his then boss, Casey. The hearings, which went on for seven weeks before Gates was finally confirmed, were even more bruising than those in 1987. They gave him perspective, Gates said, "so you don’t get too pumped up about things and too down about things. One of my favorite lines is, Today a peacock, tomorrow a feather duster."
For all the power-hungry, fame-aspiring and status-worrying people in the world, this is a great quote to remember. I’ve encountered quite a few people in my life whose insufferable ego bulldozes everything else in the room, and often, they will later fall on their butts.
So for those of you who have to endure such people, know that justice is usually served, but remember to stay out of the way when these guys fall lest you get crushed.