Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Leader's Lesson to Us

For those of you reading this who are World War II buffs, you will probably connect with this writing the most.  If you are not, I hope you still enjoy it.  

Recently I read a book on a historical leader I have always admired.  Although it is disputed, the Soviet Union may have at least partially owed victory over the Germans to this man. He conducted continual bombings on German production sites thus limiting supplies to German troops in the East.  He was also a faithful husband, painter, architect, soldier, career politician, prime minister, writer and maybe most notably an orator. He was also incredibly kind and never held a grudge.  The man I am talking about is Winston Churchill.

I'm not going to dispense every detail on Churchill's life because that would take far too long and I'm not that knowledgeable.  I merely want to focus on one aspect of his life.  Oddly, his failures.  As successful as Winston Churchill was, both as a leader and his many other trades, he was also an incredible failure. 

That seems a strange place to focus, I know, but I feel that's where I've gleaned the most from Churchill.  At a young age he was discounted by his parents because of poor grades in school.  The man also had several failed elections, policies, and campaigns.  BBC News ran an article reflecting back 70 years on the failed Churchill campaigns in both World Wars I and II which cost thousands of lives. 

Later Sir Churchill, was extremely forgiving.  He was forgiving not only of himself, but others.  One of the first to embrace the German civilians who had suffered so much because of the bombings was Churchill himself.  He wanted the German economy to be revived and he was saddened by the suffering he saw. 

I now want to quote from Paul Johnson's "Churchill," pg. 164
"...Churchill never allowed mistakes, disaster-personal or national-accidents, illnesses, unpopularity, and criticism to get him down.  His powers of recuperation, both in physical illness and in psychological responses to abject failure, were astounding."
Another excerpt from pg 164
"Churchill wasted an extraordinarily small amount of his time and emotional energy on the meannesses of life: recrimination, shifting the blame onto others, malice, revenge seeking, dirty tricks, spreading rumors, harboring grudges, waging vendettas.  Having fought hard, he washed his hands and went on to the next contest."

Understandably it is hard to appreciate Churchill's resilience without reading the book, which I highly recommend.  However, I confide this is extremely difficult for me.  Withe each failure, I know that I thrash myself and often quit trying. It is easy to have a defeatist attitude, especially concerning the many problems in the world that feel so far beyond our control.  

Churchill said, "Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."  Are we doing that day to day? What do you guys think?  I want to hear from everyone and thanks.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Commencement of a New Type of Blog

How does one genesis a blog?  Well, I've never blogged before and I'm not entirely certain how to answer that question.  I'll begin by explaining my reasoning for writing and thus make it easy for you to decide whether this is a complete waste of your time or not.  I hope it is not.  Time is valuable.

First of all, I will tell you what this blog is not.  There are many blogs with pictures of animals, babies, families, homes, etc.  This is not one of those blogs.  This is not to say that I have any dispute with those who write blogs in such a manner.  In fact, my wife is one such person and I appreciate her blog immensely.  All of those subjects are worthwhile and are everybit worth being written about.  However, I am warning you for the last time, this is not that type of blog.

Second, I was once told never to stop writing.  Although I have dabbled from time to time, I have years ago relinquished my ability to share thoughts and ideas through the written word.  This blog is an attempt to break that cycle.  My hope is that my interest in the subjects we will discuss will spur me forward in critical thinking by use of the written word.   Therefore, I freely admit that this blog is selfish in that it is for me foremost, and secondly it is for you.

However, I need you.  I need your feedback, criticisms, thoughts, but most of all, I need your dialogue.  You see, as I stated, I am not a great mind nor a great writer.  I believe in borrowing from far greater minds than my own.  Therefore you will find my blog to be full of quotes, articles, and references.  Through your comments and feedback I hope we can have edifying discussions. 

Third, and probably the most exciting point, I'm looking forward to hearing from all of my friends on a regular basis.  I see and speak with many of you far too infrequently.  I'm excited to hear from many of you on a variety of topics.

Last, as you have indeed sensed by now, this is an experiment for me.  Be patient as there are sure to be hiccups in the process.  Thanks, and I hope you enjoy!