Getting back into the rhymn of work has its challenges and rewards – at the end of day two I thought I would round off with the remainder of the holiday reading highlights.
What do we want from leaders? How much humanity (and weakness) dare we tolerate in those in authority. Or have you ever wondered why it is some people seem born to lead….. what is the ‘X’ factor of management. With some of these questions in mind I read Sebastian Coe’s book The Winning Mind
From his childhood amidst the steel mills of South Yorkshire to Olympic glory and beyond, Seb Coe’s story is one of extraordinary achievement. One of the greatest middle-distance runners of all time, Seb earned four Olympic medals during a world-record breaking career. This is his account of the challenges, hard graft, set-backs and victories that he experienced during his career, retold with the passion and commitment that ultimately made him such an inspirational sporting champion.
As an athlete, politican, business speaker and key figure in the delivery of the 2012 Olympic Games, Coe has striven to achieve success in every challenge he has faced. This is the story of one man’s quest for excellence and the power of the winning mind.
For lessons learnt? Wait and see…
Here in Windsor surrounded by perhaps too much history I decided to dip into some and read Charles Ross’s biography of Edward IV published back in 1974 and picked up in a second hand bookstall in Welshpool.
The charismatic Edward defeated at the age of only 19 and against all odds the House of Lancaster and claimed the English throne for the house of York. Famous for his sensual appetites and his preference for the expedient over the correct, in his own time Edward IV was seen as an able and successful king who rescued England from the miseries of civil war and provided the country with firm, judicious, and popular government.
Later historians diminished this high reputation, until recent research confirmed Edward as a ruler of substantial achievement, whose methods and policies formed the foundation of early Tudor government. This classic study by Charles Ross places the reign firmly in the context of late medieval power politics, analyzing the methods by which a usurper sought to retain his throne and reassert the power of a monarchy seriously weakened by the feeble rule of Henry VI. Edward’s relations with the politically active classes — the merchants, gentry, and nobility — form a major theme, and against this background the author provides an evaluation of the many innovations in government on which the king’s achievement rests. This is fine book: learned, judicious, carefully thought out and skillfully presented.
I love Tony Benn – he is consistent, interesting, humane and often right ! In his latest book Letters to my grandchildren : Thoughts on the future Benn aspires to want to change things.
Here are his own words:
‘As a diarist I have chronicled the time through which I have lived in meticulous detail: but all that is history. What matters now is the future for those who will live through it. The past is the past but there may be lessons to be learned which could help the next generation to avoid mistakes their parents and grandparents made.
Certainly at my age I have learned an enormous amount from the study of history – not so much from the political leaders of the time but from those who struggled for justice and explained the world in a way that shows the continuity of history and has inspired me to do my work. Normality for any individual is what the world is like on the day they are born. The normality of the young is wholly different from the normality of their grandparents. It is the disentangling of the real questions from the day to day business of politics that may make sense for those who take up the task as they will do.Every generation has to fight the same battles as their ancestors had to fight, again and again, for there is no final victory and no final defeat.
Two flames have burned from the beginning of time – the flame of anger against injustice and the flame of hope. If this book serves its purpose it will fan both flames.’
Well there were a few more but thats enough of holiday books fro the time being…