Leadership Starts with the Man in the Mirror

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I've been reading John Allison's The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure over the past few weeks, and the following passage reminds me of Cal Newport's Deep Work (blogged here and here):

"Nice place you got here ... a man can really get some thinking done." -- Newman (Image via Unsplash.)
I have tried to personally exhibit the attributes necessary for lifelong learning. Every month, I read a difficult book (typically one that was not directly business-related) and referred the best books to our senior leadership team. I took the time for two weeks of education each year. Typically, one week would be related to economics and the other week would be devoted to studying philosophy. I particularly studied Austrian economics. Since most business leaders my age studied Keynesian economics from Paul Samuelson's incredibly misleading college textbook, they were far easier for the Fed to mislead. A deep understanding of the Austrian economic school is a tremendous competitive advantage in making long-term economic decisions. (You should read Human Action by Ludwig von Mises.) [minor fomrat edits] (p. 238)
Early in his book, Cal Newport notes the practice of many highly successful people (e.g., Carl Jung, Bill Gates, and, if I recall correctly, Mark Twain), of taking time off from their daily routines in order to concentrate on important work or ponder big-picture issues. Throughout his book, Newport also stresses the importance of integrating deeper thinking into one's schedule. We see both above, and from someone who managed to excel in the kind of circumstances in which many or most people would throw up their hands and quit. Much of the rest of the chapter reads like a mini-clinic on learning (including from life experience) and leadership, which Allison -- unlike anyone I have ever heard discuss the subject -- stresses begins with leading oneself. I am glad to learn that Allison has written on this more general topic, and that it seems to have been well-received.

-- CAV

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