Five Leadership Lessons From The Life of Winston Churchill

My husband has been re-reading historian Paul Johnson’s excellent biography of Winston Churchill, appropriately titled simply, ChurchillIn the epilogue, Johnson details the following five lessons from Churchill’s life:

  1. 486px-Winston_Churchill_cph.3a49758Always aim high. Despite receiving little parental support and encouragement, Churchill became an accomplished military leader, statesman, writer, historian, painter, builder, and academic. “He did not always meet his elevated targets,” Johnson writes, “but by aiming high he always achieved something worthwhile.” 
  2. There is no substitute for hard work. Churchill poured his all to everything he pursued, whether work (politics, administration, writing books, speaking) or leisure (naps, champagne, humor). “Mistakes he made, constantly, but there was never anything shoddy or idle about his work.”
  3. Be courageous. “Churchill never allowed mistakes, disaster — personal or national — accidents, illnesses, unpopularity, and criticism to get him down.” Despite significant setbacks and embarrassments throughout his life, Churchill always got up and kept fighting, demonstrating both courage and “its companion, fortitude.”
  4. Do not waste energy on the ‘meannesses of life.’ “Churchill wasted an extraordinarily small amount of his time and emotional energy on…recrimination, shifting blame, malice, revenge seeking, dirty tricks, spreading rumors, harboring grudges, waging vendettas….There is nothing more draining and exhausting than hatred. And malice is bad for the judgment.”
  5. Share and give joy. Churchill was happy with people; he loved jokes; he liked to sing. “No greater leader was ever laughed at, or with, more than Churchill.”
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