CHURCHILL: The Perfect Change

This entry is part 9 of 12 in the series Lead Like Churchill

“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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“I will keep constant watch over myself…” – HOLIDAY/HANSELMAN: The Daily Stoic, p.30

‘If we look back on our past life…’ – LANGWORTH, Richard: Churchill by Himself, p.583



Viewing the position at El Alamein, October, 1942 – The Imperial War Museum, London









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