The Road to Character

I picked this one because it was one of the books recommended by our senior leaders at work, it’s a bit outside of the type of books I would normally focus on (business or R/Python technical manuals) but I really enjoyed something different. In retrospect, this is an important read for all leaders because of its strong focus on serving others. Right out of the gate in the introduction, the author describes those with “impressive inner cohesion” in a way that I believe applies to all great leaders:

“They radiate a sort of moral joy. They answer softly when challenged harshly. They are silent when unfairly abused. They are dignified when others try to humiliate them, restrained when others try to provoke them. But they get things done. They preform acts of sacrificial service with the same modest everyday spirit they would display if they were just getting the groceries. They are not thinking about what impressive work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all. They just seem delighted by the flawed people around them. They recognize what needs doing and they do it.”

Favorite Part: This book follows the pattern that many seem to take these days, devoting each chapter to separate stories about historical figures, diving deep into their lives and how they apply to the overall theme. In this case, chapter 3 about Dwight D. Eisenhower and chapter 4, devoted to the life of Mary Ann Evans (also known by her pen name, George Eliot) were two of my favorites. Specifically this anecdote about Eisenhower, early in his military service:

“Once he was demoted from sergeant to private for dancing too exuberantly at a ball.”

Favorite Quote: “The best leaders tries to lead along the grain of human nature rather than go against it. He realizes that he, like the people he leads, is likely to be sometimes selfish, narrow-minded, and self-deceiving. Therefore he prefers arrangements that are low and steady to those that are lofty and heroic.” - pg. 266

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Greg Shick
Analytics / Data Science / Statistics

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