Get the Powers to Act from Fresh Ideas



January 8, 2013

A Letter to Mr. Barack Obama

on Nov 2, 2011

Dear Mr Obama,

In Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, I read that

  1. Once you felt like hiding "confusion or doubt" from your "seasoned advisers."
  2. You also felt a big part of leadership is "projecting" "confidence" and "optimism" like FDR and Reagan.
  3. Since putting America's best and smartest brains in a room still not gets you "perfect technical answers" to the problems, you were left looking for "philosophical underpinnings" and "principles beyond pragmatism."
  4. At least some of your Economic advisers (esp Larry Summers and co.) felt they were "home alone."

The great George Washington had faced this before. He felt like an impostor and thought about saving himself form public shame by settling in some unknown Western territories. I think he's writing to one of his brothers in a letter.

The not so great JFK had faced this before, esp. after the Bay of Pigs op. I won't bother to talk about the not so great.

The great Abraham Lincoln had faced this before. But he's made of sterner stuff, and of more solid foundations than most of us. An anecdote may serve more to illustrate my point here. Once a group of bankers came to remind him the perilous financial situation of the Union during the Civil War.

Lincoln replied with this story. Once at night, a Presbyterian deacon tapped his door, and shouted "Arise Abraham. The Day of Judgement is come!", pointing to the shower of falling stars outside. Lincoln told the bankers, "But beyond the shower, I still saw the grand old constellations that I was so well acquainted with. No, gentlemen, the world didn't end then and nor will the Union now."

Please read Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan's seminal book, Execution.
If short of time, please read just 1 chapter in the book on "Leader's 7 Essential Behaviours".

With(Bossidy and Charan's words) "emotional fortitude" "inner security" "inner strength," the leader already has "a methodology for dealing with the unknown."

Please muddle along. And truly feel that that is real confidence, not of an artificial, manufactured, "studied demeanour."

Lincoln's "the grand old constellations" are still here for me.

I sincerely believe they are there for you too.

Good luck!

Yours sincerely,
kyaw kyaw naing, george

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