Friday, 8 June 2018

King Richard the Second – William Shakespeare 1994


Letting go of what makes you. 



“King Richard: Why, uncle, thou hast many years to live.
John of Gaunt: But not a minute, king, that thou canst give:
Shorten my days thou canst with sullen sorrow,
And pluck nights from me, but not lend a morrow;” (Shakespeare, 1995, p.364).

 “Queen: (…)
I will despair, and be at enmity
With cozening hope, - he is a flatterer,
A parasite, a keeper-back of death,
Who gently would dissolve the bands of life.” (Shakespeare, 1995, p.369).

“King Richard: (…)
As a long-parted mother with her child
Plays fondly with her tears and smiles in meeting,
So, weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth,
And do thee favours with my royal hands.

Feed not thy sovereign’s foe, my gentle earth,
Nor with thy sweets comfort his ravenous sense;
But let thy spiders, that suck up thy venom,
And heavy gaited toads, lie in their way,
Doing annoyance to the treacherous deed,
Which with usurping steps do trample thee.” (Shakespeare, 1995, p.373).

“King Richard:
No matter where; - of comfort no man speak:
Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes,
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.
Let’s choose executors, and talk of wills:
And yet not so, - for what can we bequeath
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives, and all are Bolingbroke’s,
And nothing can we call our own but death,
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground,
And tell sad stor’es of the death of kings: -
How some have been deposed; some slain in war;
Sime haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives; some sleeping kill’d.
Akk murder’d: - for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court.” (Shakespeare, 1995, p.374).

“King Richard:
Cover your heads, and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence; throw away respect,
Tradition, form, and ceremonious duty;
For you have mistook me all the while:
I live like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends; - subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?” (Shakespeare, 1995, p.374).

“King Richard: (…)
Go to Flint castle: there I’ll pine away;
A king, a woe’s slave, shall kingly woe obey.
That power I have, discharge; and let them go
To hear the land that hath some hope to grow,
For I have none: - let no man speak again
To alter this, for counsel is but vain.” (Shakespeare, 1995, p.374).

“Henry Bolingbroke:
My gracious lord, I come for my own.

King Richard:
Your own is yours, and I am yours, and all.” (Shakespeare, 1995, p.376).

“King Richard:
God save the king! Although I be not he;
And yet amen, if heaven do think him me. –“ (Shakespeare, 1995, p.379).

“King Richard:
Give me the crown. – Here, cousin, seize the crown;
Here cousin:
On this side my hand, and on that side yours.” (Shakespeare, 1995, p.380).

“Henry Bolingbroke:
I thought you had been willing to resign.

King Richard: My crown I am; but still my griefs are mine:
You may my glories and my state depose,
But not my griefs; still I am king of those.” (Shakespeare, 1995, p.380).

“Henry Bolingbroke:
Are you contented to resign the crown?

King Richard:
Ay, no; - no, ay; for I must nothing be;
Therefore no no; for I resign to thee.
Now mark me, how I will undo myself.
(…)
Make me, that nothing have, with nothing grieved,
And thou with all pleased, that hast all achieved!” (Shakespeare, 1995, p.380).

“King Richard: (…)
                                   but whate’er I be,
Nor I, nor any man that but man is,
With nothing shall he pleased, till he be eased
With being nothing.” (Shakespeare, 1995, p.386).


Saturday, 2 June 2018

The will to lead – Marvin Bower 1997


“So each subordinate does what the boss wants – or even what each subordinate thinks the boss wants.” (Bower, 1997, p.2). “It’s because people want to “get ahead” (i.e. move up the hierarchy) so they can boss others.” (Bower, 1997, p.2).

“to become a professional firm instead of a commercial firm requires a real belief in professional standards and determination to follow them. “Commercial” means putting firm income ahead of client interests.” (Bower, 1997, p.16).

 “One of our values is that we have no firm hierarchy. (…) Hence the managing director cannot tell people what to do. So each managing director has to learn to lead.” (Bower, 1997, p.xiii). “I tried never to say anything that would be considered an order. And I found that it was increasingly easy to make suggestions, that is, to persuade people.” (Bower, 1997, p.17). “A constituent cannot be effective (…) if he or she lacks self confidence.” (Bower, 1997, p.49).“Among the direct consequences are an incapacity to summon energy in behalf of purposeful ffort, an unwillingness to take risks, and a fatal timidity when the moment of opportunity breaks.” (Bower, 1997, p.49). “When a company decides to convert from commanding to leading, I suggest that it, too, call its employees “associates” and treat them as Sam did. (…) “our relationship with the associates is a partnership in the truest sense.”” (Bower, 1997, p.61).



“The leader exists to serve those whom he nominally leads, those who supposedly follow him.” (Bower, 1997, p.29). “a person who sets attractive goals and has te abilities to attract followers.” (Bower, 1997, p.7). “the leader must be trusted and respected.” (Bower, 1997, p.7). “trust opens up two-way communication, making it possible for them to achieve their common goals.” (Bower, 1997, p.8). “When a company decides to run its business by leading its people rather than commanding them, constituents will feel free to exercise initiatives.” (Bower, 1997, p.8). “Instead, leaders and constituents work out decisions and take actions together.” (Bower, 1997, p.8).

“I think that perhaps 80% of my work depends on listening to someone.” (Bower, 1997, p.31).
“That not only involves paying close attention, but also asking brief, non-leading questions.” (Bower, 1997, p.32).“They listen to advisers, to customers, to inner voices, to enemies, to the wind. That’s how they get word before anyone else of unseen probles and opportunities.” (Bower, 1997, p.33).“Consider the great competitive advantage to a company of having an open-minded chief executive as a leader and other open-minded leaders positioned throughout the company, all ready to receive and consider ideas and put them to work if their judgements stamp them as useful.” (Bower, 1997, p.34). “I never leave his office without feeling good – not even when he turns me down on something or criticizes me.” (Bower, 1997, p.50).

 “people in a leadership company derive satisfaction from being involved in work which produces products or services that customers buy with increasing satisfaction. And, for everyone, simply belonging to a leadership company will be satisfying in itself.” (Bower, 1997, p.46).

“In a business that is run by a network of leaders, all company leaders – not only the chief executive and a few others – will take the top-management approach and view the business as a whole.” (Bower, 1997, p.55). “It is the function of each of these departments to serve the business as a whole to the end that as much profit as possible may be made.” (Bower, 1997, p.56).

“Many companies keep struggling for a motivating vision. They can’t all be as lucky as J&J. Some may take the form of an advertising slogan. IBM has recently begun using its this slogan: “Solutions for a small planet.” General Electric: “We bring good things to life.” Delta airlines: “You’ll love the way we fly.” United Parcel Service: “Moving at the speed of business.” (Bower, 1997, p.71).

 “But first, I’d like to talk about how a leadership team works. We are going to eliminate hierarchy, which means that we will all become peers. I will no be your boss. We can all disagree with one another, and each of you can disagree with me. If I can’t persuade you, and each of you can’t reach agreement, I will resolve the issue, because as a leader, I’m what they call ‘first among equals’. (…)
Here are two of my most important responsibilities:
First, to develop your self-confidence, so you will feel free to speak up. (,,,)
Next, to think about the company as a whole and to discuss it that way – not to talk just about marketing, but about our competitive position and how we make profits.” (Bower, 1997, p.88).

Sunday, 27 May 2018

The history of the Peloponnesian war- Thucydides


I could read this book for the rest of my life and learn.

Power and empire:
“For the true author of the subjugation of a people is not so much the immediate agent, as the power which is able to prevent it, yet permits it.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.56).

Athens role in fighting Persia: “But we left behind us a city that was a city no longer, and staked our lives for a city that had an existence only in desperate hope, and so bore our ful share in your deliverance and in ours.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.61).

 “Men seem to resent injustice more than violence; the former is regarded as unfair advantage taken by an equal, the latter is compulsion applied by a superior.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.63).

“war is a matter not so much of arms as of money, which makes arms of use. This is more than ever true in a struggle between a continental and a maritime power. First, then, let us provide money, and not allow ourselves to be carried away by the talk of our allies before we have done so.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.66).

“If we undertake the war without preparation we should only delay its conclusion by hastening its commencement.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.66).

“It is not in Attica that the war will be decided, as some imagine, but in the countries by which Attica is supported.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.147).




wise moderation:
“we are not carried away by the pleasure of hearing ourselves cheered on to risks which our judgment condemns.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.66).

“in fact, they (brave men) are neither intoxicated by their success in war, nor disposed to take an injury for the sake of the delightful tranquility of peace. Indeed, to falter for the sake of such delights is, if you remain inactive, the quickest way of losing the sweets of repose to which you cling.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.70).

“The confidence with which we form our schemes is never completely justified in their execution; we plan in safety, but when it comes to action, fear causes us to fail.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.71).

The Athenian attitude:
“A scheme unexecuted is with them (the Athenians) a positive loss, a successful enterprise a comparative failure. If they fail in some attempt, they compensate for the miscarriage by conceiving new hopes; unike other people, with them to hope is to have, so quick are they to put an idea into practice. They toil on in trouble and danger all the days of their life, with little opportunity for enjoying, ever engaged in getting.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.58).

Pericles: “Wealth to us is not mere material for vainglory but an opportunity for achievement; and poverty we think it no disgrace to acknowledge but a real degradation to make no effort to overcome. (…) We differ from other states in regarding the man who holds aloof from public life not as “quiet” but as useless. (…) not that words and deeds go ill together, but that acts are foredoomed to failure when undertaken undiscussed. For we are noted for being at once most adventurous in action and most reflective beforehand. (…) But the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out and meet it.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.113).

“Remember that to lose what one has got is more disgraceful than to be balked in getting.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.127).

“The secret of this was their general extraordinary success, which made them confuse their strength with their hopes.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.227). “for it is a habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to use reason arbitrarily to thrust aside what they do not fancy.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.242).


Pericles on democracy:
“Our constitution is named a democracy, because it is in the hands not of the few but of the many. But our laws secure equal justice for all in their private disputes, and our public opinion welcomes and honors talent in every branch of achievement, not for any sectional reason but on grounds of excellence alone. And as we give free play to all in our public life, so we carry the same spirit into our daily relations with one another. We have no black looks or angry words for our neighbor if he enjoys himself in his own way, and we abstain from the little acts of churlishness which, though they leave no mark, yet cause annoyance to whoso notes them. Open and friendly in our private intercourse in our public acts we keep strictly within the control of law. We acknowledge the restraint of reverence; we are obedient to whomsoever is set in authority, and to the laws, more especially to those which offer protection to the oppressed and those unwritten ordinances whose transgression brings admitted shame.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.112).

The role of advisers in the democracy
“Pericles, by his rank, ability and known integrity, was able to exercise an independent control over the masses – to lead them instead of being led by them; for as he never sought power to improper means, he was never compelled to flatter them.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.130).

“a wise city, without over-distinguishing its best advisers, will nevertheless not deprive them of their due, and far from punishing unlucky counsellor will not even regard him as disgraced. In this way successful orators will be least tempted to sacrifice their convictions to popularity.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.165).

“Besides the hand of Heaven must be borne with resignation, that of the enemy with fortitude.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.128).

“Words changed their ordinary meaning and were construed in new senses. Reckless daring passed for the courage of a loyal partisan, far-sighted hesitation was the excuse of a coward, moderation was the pretext of the unmanly, the power to see all sides of a question was complete inability to act. Impulsive rashness was held the mark of a man, caution in conspiracy was a specious excuse for avoiding action.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.190).

How to bring peace
The Spartans to Athens after the latter win a Pylos: “Men of few words where many are not wanted, we can be less brief when there is a matter of importance to be illustrated and an end to be served by its illustration. Meanwhile we beg you to take what we may say, not in a hostile spirit, nor as if we thought you ignorant and wished to lecture you, but rather as a suggestion on the best course to be taken, addressed to intelligent critics. You can now, if you choose, employ your present success to advantage, so as to keep what you have got and gain honor and reputation besides, and you can avoid the mistake of those who meet with an extraordinary piece of good fortune, and are led on by hope to grasp continually at something further, because they have had an unexpected success.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.206).
“Indeed if great enmities are ever to be really settled, we think it will be, not by the system of revenge and military success, and by forcing an opponent to swear to a treaty to his disadvantage, but when the more fortunate combatant waives these his privileges, is guided by gentler feelings, conquers his rival in generosity, and accords peace on more moderate conditions than were expected. From that moment, instead of the debt of revenge which violence must entail, his adversary owes a debt of generosity to be paid in kind, and is inclined by honour to stand to his agreement.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.207).


On strategy
“the surest method of harming an enemy is to find out what he most fears, and to choose this means of attacking him, for everyone naturally knows best the weak points which he has most to fear.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.326).
 “they cut down their prows, to make them more solid, and added thick catheads, and from these let stays into the vessel’s side for a length of nine feet within and without. (…) the Athenian vessels which were not as strongly built, but were slight in the bows (this suited the Athenian tactics of sailing round and charging the enemy’s flank instead of meeting him prow to prow). (…) The Athenians, if repulsed, would not be able to back water in any direction except towards the shore and that only for a short way, and in the small space in front of their own camp. The rest of the harbor would be commanded by the Syracusans. (…) Having determined on tactics to suit their skill and strength.” (Thucydides, 1943, p.353).