I just finished George W. Bush’s book, Decision Points, and I really enjoyed it. There are 14 chapters that give his back story on why he made key decisions during his presidency. Not that I agreed with everything he says or did but I feel like it is a great premise and I would enjoy if each President wrote a book like this.
I had two dominant reactions to the book:
- Being the President of the United States is not a job I would want. The perks don’t seem to match the beatings that you take.
- Leadership is harder than most people acknowledge.
Along the lines of reaction #2, there was one quote in the book that really stood out to me. He states:
“That is the nature of the presidency. Perceptions are shaped by the clarity of hindsight. In the moment of decision, you don’t have that advantage.”
I’d argue that this is the nature of leadership in general. Most of us don’t experience this on the scale that the President of the United States does, but we experience it in varying degrees. This is also why leadership can feel so lonely at times.
For those moments when we are leading we must acknowledge that we don’t have the clarity we will looking back. Yet a decision needs to be made. It also means that we must have realistic expectations of those whose leadership we follow and understand the advantage of our point of view in assessing their leadership. Regardless of your politics, this is a very worthwhile read.