CHURCHILL: Leadership In Living Colour

This entry is part 1 of 12 in the series Lead Like Churchill

‘Happy are the painters,’ he wrote, ‘for they never shall be lonely: light and colour; peace and hope will keep them company to the end— or almost to the end of the day.’[1]

Churchill painting in his studio at Chartwell

More than a hobby, painting to Winston Churchill was oxygen, and it literally saved his life. “I thought he would die of grief,”[2] Great-Grandmamma confided in her husband’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, when speaking about the disaster of the 1915 Gallipoli Campaign. ‘Many remedies are suggested for the avoidance of worry and mental overstrain,’ Churchill wrote in his essay Painting as a Pastime, but the ‘cultivation of a hobby and new forms of interest is,’ as he continued, ‘a policy of first importance,’ but, ‘not a business that can be undertaken in a day or swiftly improvised by a mere command of the will.’[3]

‘Distant View of Eze’ Winston S. Churchill

Churchill began to cultivate his hobby while serving on the French Front during the First World War. Using broad and courageous strokes, as instructed by fellow artist Hazel Lavery, he began to attack the canvas with ‘fierce strokes and slashes of blue,’ [4] noting with delight how the canvas cowered before him.

‘The colours are lovely to look at and delicious to squeeze out.’[5] Little did Great-Grandpapa know that painting was not only a remedy for depression, but a skill for leadership; one that cultivated his mind to draw out the best in those around him. As leaders, we need to look for the positive in people, and encourage it, while helping to resolve the negative we find. The result of this attitude particularly on a workforce could be phenomenal, and as it did for Churchill, reduced staff-turnover.


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[1] CHURCHILL, Sir Winston S.: Painting as a Pastime, p.13

[2] SOAMES, Lady Mary: Clementine Churchill, p.141

[3] CHURCHILL, Sir Winston S.: Painting as a Pastime, p.8

[4] ibid, p.17

[5] ibid, p.19

IMAGE CREDIT

Churchill painting in his studio at Chartwell: http://www.wsj.com/articles/winston-churchill-paintings-to-make-public-debut-in-georgia-1406315524

‘Distant View of Eze’ by Winston S. Churchill: Part of a Private Collection owned by the Julian Sandys Family

Series NavigationCHURCHILL LEADERSHIP: He Understood… >>

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