This week’s post will be short and sweet. Considering the day, I don’t believe I could add anything more to one of the most beautiful love letters I have read between my great-grandparents. In August 1908, one month before they were married, Clementine wrote:
Bill Gladwell and Jonathan Sandys
Don’t you sometimes find you meet the most interesting people in the most unexpected places and, when you part, you feel your life has been affected for the better? This week, I have. In South Carolina, where I was speaking at the Rotary District Conference.
Bill is pitched as a hypnotist, and although he is a qualified hypnotist, initially making a living on stage, today he practices as a much more engaging human lie detector. Based-off the scientific research of Dr. Paul Ekman, serialized by Fox in the crime drama, Lie to Me, Bill creates a very thought-provoking performance that gives the illusion he can read your mind. However, Bill admits he cannot, and holds dubious the claims of those who can. Rather, he uses finely-honed skills of observation to interpret the facial expressions and body language of others.
Asking an audience member to write something they love on a piece of paper, Bill then asks five questions and from those extrapolates what the person wrote. It was fun to watch, and from the performance that was witnessed last night, I can see how easy it would be for someone with Bill’s talent to dispense with integrity and resolve to be rich by reducing his hard-studied, respectable profession to the depths of a personal get-rich-quick scheme. However, as he told me: “I’m not a con-man, and don’t like those who are.”
Today we see many different sorts of leaders rising. Some wave the banner of peace and goodwill while playing an audience for their own self-gratification, narcissism and personal gain. However, as we discussed a few weeks ago there are others, like Bill, who grasp the great privilege the title of Leader bestows, and recognize that with the sometimes enormous power and influence they have, responsibility and integrity are not options, but rather, requirements.
If courage and faith are necessary characteristics of leadership, integrity must also be incorporated to complete the full circle and steer leaders from self, to genuine service.
Attempting great leadership while lacking one of the aforementioned principles is like removing one side of a house of cards and expecting it to stand. Courage, faith, and integrity are the foundations on which the greatest leaders have led their countries, companies and people to achieve feats that few, sometimes none thought possible.
The incredible code breaker Alan Turing and his famous Bombe, the model on which computers began. President Kennedy, who, way before the means and feasibility of space exploration had been addressed, stood confidently in Texas and told the world that a man would go to the moon in that decade. Or the teacher who on Monday, will inspire a student to make a difference, whether it be considered major or minor by our standards.
All those I have mentioned were or are leaders, but it is their integrity that, in the case of Turning and Kennedy changed the world.
For the teacher, integrity is even more vital. Teachers have a greater responsibility than others, because without their knowledge and influence, Turing would never have been capable of giving the Allies an edge to defeat Hitler, and those amazing minds at NASA would never have gained the knowledge to think outside the scientific box and persevere through failure.
If you want to be beloved and secure, lead with integrity. Greatness comes through service above self.
If you would like to know more about Thought Reader, Actor and Consultant Bill Gladwell, please visit: Bill Gladwell Live.
If you would like to know more about the Lead Like Churchill leadership course, please visit: Lead Like Churchill.
It’s great being at the top, but with ‘great power there is great responsibility,’ as Winston Churchill demonstrated during the Second World War.
On July 3, 1940, Churchill gave the hardest order of his career; to sink the French Fleet. Faced with a choice to turn on our former allies, or allow their navy to fall into enemy hands, thus surrendering the battle on the seas, Churchill pleaded with the Vichy Government to see reason. Britain was outnumbered in both men and munitions, and the French navy was the fourth largest in the world. We desperately needed the fleet, but the French Government was scared of a German backlash if they sailed into our ports. Churchill sent a memo to the leaders who now represented the falling Government, either send us the ships or scuttle them. The request was ignored, and so Churchill responded in the only way he could. ‘If you refuse these fair offers, I must, with profound regret, require you to sink your ships within six hours.’ Churchill warned that, ‘failing the above, I have the orders of His Majesty’s Government to use whatever force may be necessary to prevent your ships from falling into German or Italian hands.’ The French Government didn’t believe him, evidently they hadn’t heard his Never Surrender speech. And so, as the leader of Great Britain, responsible for ensuring the best opportunity for victory as possible, Churchill sent the order to sink the fleet, which he later described as ‘a hateful decision, the most unnatural and painful in which I have ever been concerned.’ Cabling to Vice-Admiral Somerville, on whose shoulders the responsibility fell, Churchill wrote: ‘You are charged with one of the most disagreeable and difficult tasks that a British Admiral has ever been faced with, but we have complete confidence in you and rely on you to carry it out relentlessly.’ The cable was received, and reluctantly Somerville followed it. The French Fleet was sunk, and this action ensured that Britain, now alone in the fight, had the best chance to continue on.
Winston Churchill showed great courage in the risks he took by giving that order. Firstly, Somerville, or indeed any of the troops could have refused to fire upon Britain’s former ally. But they didn’t, not because Somerville was simply following orders, as was the Nuremberg excuse, but because Somerville knew the nature of his leader, and he knew, as Churchill did, it was necessary. Secondly, Churchill risked dissent in Parliament and throughout the world. This action might have been considered a war crime, however, Churchill had done his best to warn the French Government, and had also sought to get as many men off the ships before firing upon them. Thirdly, the backlash he risked from the French was his greatest concern. This was an act of war. Churchill feared that by the following day Hitler would have found a new ally, as Britain later found with Russia. However, shocked though the world was by the action, none of these fears came to fruition. Parliament hailed Churchill a hero, and ‘in a village near Toulon dwelt two peasant families, each of whom had lost their sailor son by British fire at Oran,’ Churchill recounted a story told him sometime later. ‘A funeral service was arranged to which all their neighbors sought to go. Both families requested that the Union Jack should lie upon the coffins side by side with the Tricolour.’
As leaders our responsibility is to act for the greater good of our people and organizations. Whether you represent a small or large entity, Churchill’s leadership demands that we put their interests before our own, even if we do face a possible backlash. If our course is honourable, there should be no fear in the response. Critics will be few, and they will be silenced by the outcome.
Epictetus tells us ‘the proper work of the mind is the exercise of choice,’ the choice to do and think right. ‘Refusal,’ to give into temptation. ‘Yearning,’ to strive to be better. ‘Repulsion,’ of lies, negativity and bad influences. ‘Preparation,’ to look beyond our decisions to the future consequences, good or bad, and prepare for them. ‘Purpose,’ to act with clarity and holding morality above all else. And finally, Epictetus reminds us that we must employ ‘assent,’ so we may be ‘free of deception about what’s inside and outside our control.’ These are some of the greatest building blocks of Churchillian leadership, and represent seven functions Churchill applied his mind to with every decision, especially when his choice affected others.
As we go about our daily lives, let’s reflect on Epictetus’ advice, and prepare ourselves for the hard decisions we face not only in business, but with our families and friends. We can all Lead Like Churchill, and take those tough decisions for the greater good.
READY TO TAKE THE TOUGH DECISIONS?, is part of the Lead Like Churchill leadership course, designed to inspire current and fledgling leaders to Churchillian greatness. To find out more about the course, please visit: http://leadlikechurchill.org/LLC, call on: (832) 564-3698 or email us at email@example.com
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“I will keep constant watch over myself and-most usefully-will put each day up for review. For this is what makes evil-that none of us looks back upon our own lives. We reflect upon only that which we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future descend from the past.”
– Seneca, Moral Letters, 83.2
“This desert warfare has to be seen to be believed.” Viewing the position at El Alamein, October, 1942
Lucius Seneca reminds us that our future is inherently connected to our past, and Churchill certainly agreed. Believing wholeheartedly that ‘If we look back on our past life, we shall see that one of its most usual experiences is that we have been helped by our mistakes,’ Churchill often reflected on the choices he made, and sometimes with great regret; the disaster of the 1915 Gallipoli Campaign comes to mind. Churchill’s good intentions during the First World War led him to push forward on an action that has since been noted as one of the worst military disasters in history. The loss of over three-hundred-thousand lives not only sent a shockwave throughout the country, but it threw Churchill from his pinnacle, and threatened to end his political career completely. However, Churchill learnt from his mistake and ensure that when presented with a similar opportunity during the Second World War he not only knew the correct facts, but would often visit the site himself and consult with the commanders in the field.
If we as leaders want to remain at the top, supported by our troops in the field, we too must examine our past. We must be critical of ourselves, but not with the intention of recrimination, instead in the sentiment of Churchill: to improve, for perfection’s sake.
What is your Gallipoli?
Over this next week, I’d like to ask you to consider that question. What challenges have you faced in your past, and what have you learnt from them?
Extract from: Lead Like Churchill: Courage, Faith, Integrity
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“…democracy is the worst form of Government”
For this week’s digest of Never Surrender!, I thought I might borrow from the title of John Lukacs book: Five Days in London, as I felt, being five days out from the inauguration of a new US President, the title was appropriate, and some would also say the subject-matter. So, with five days to go in a country divided, what advice might Winston Churchill offer us?
“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”
Echoing the thoughts of many, this election-cycle has indeed been one of the most divisive in the great history of the United States, because of the attitudes and reactions that the two candidates words surfaced. By-definition an election should divide, but ONLY on opinion!
In 1938, Churchill made some remarks in Manchester, that I feel are very appropriate: “…what is the purpose which has brought us all together? It is the conviction that the life of [the United States], her glories and message to the world, can only be achieved by national unity, and national unity can only be preserved upon a cause which is larger than the nation itself.”
A country divided against itself is as ineffectual as a government of the same. When asked to form a government in 1940, Churchill recognized that we needed national unity, because there was no other way we could defeat the overwhelming forces against us. Burying the past by including adversaries in his War Cabinet, Churchill united the country in the name of a cause that he saw was greater than our own national interests. Defeating Hitler was vital for the preservation of Christian Civilization, but unity was the only way to achieve that.
The United States and all that it stands for is greater that either the Office of the President, or indeed the inhabitant. The Founding Fathers of this wonderful nation ensured that it was not left to the Executive to maintain the dream they gave their blood, toil, tears and sweat for. America’s founders instilled the power of choice in you, and ensured that you, the people they represented, maintained that power.
Many are still saying that President-Elect Trump is “Not my President”, Sorry to burst your bubble, but he is, whether you like it or not. The votes have been cast and counted, and in your election system, the next President has been chosen. Now it’s down to you to determine what will happen to this country for the next four years. You can either put down your weapons, and whether a Trump or Clinton supporter, get behind the Office, and ensure President-Elect Trump runs things in the country’s best interests, or you can be divisive. If you choose the former, America will continue from strength to strength, but if you choose the latter, the United States will continue as the Divided States, and may well “…sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age.”
Remember the wise words of Rome’s last great Emperor Marcus Aurelius: “All you need are these: certainty of judgement in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.”
Aurelius reminds us that control of our perceptions, focus of our actions, and a willingness to accept that which is outside our control are the three vital philosophies which should always govern our decisions.
The election is over and the President has been chosen; its out of our control. But still within our power is the choice we make on January 20th. We can either unite as Churchill advises, or divide the country as he warns.
In the words of Longfellow, quoted by Churchill to President Roosevelt in 1941:
Sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
UPCOMING THIS WEEK
The Choice For Europe – May 9, 1938
“Many forms of Government…” – http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1947/nov/11/parliament-bill
“…what is the purpose which has brought us all together?” – CHURCHILL, Sir Winston S.: Into Battle, p.12
“…sink into the abyss” – LANGWORTH, Richard, Churchill by Himself, p.21
“All you need are these…” – HOLIDAY/HANSELMAN: The Daily Stoic, p.12
Sail on, O Ship of State! – LANGWORTH, Richard, Churchill by Himself, p.22
“I speak to you for the first time as Prime Minister in a solemn hour for the life of our country, of our empire, of our allies, and, above all, of the cause of Freedom.” – Winston S. Churchill
There are some amazing speechwriters out there today, it’s quite a talent. However, the distinction between a good or great speech is vast, and interestingly, no different to conversation.
I’m sure, like all of us, you’ve been to a boring party that would never end, only to find yourself engaged by one individual amongst the mass who kept you enthralled for hours. When one heard Winston Churchill speak, that was the reaction from most. Spellbound by his words, like a bear to honey, people hung on every syllable.
So, what made Churchill’s speeches engaging to listen to? The answer is simple: one theme.
If you analyse any of my great-grandfather’s speeches: Be Ye Men of Valour, or Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat, a common theme: hope, runs throughout, and it’s singular. Speeches and conversations may have several parts, but great and engaging speeches and conversations have a single focus, a single message, a clothes hanger for the dressings of those parts.
The key to successful conversations and speeches is simple, choose one simple theme. So, WHAT’S YOUR THEME?
Be Ye Men of Valour
Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat
JANUARY 18, 2017
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CHURCHILL: The 20th Century’s Greatest Leader
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