Whenever something happens to an elected official – usually something bad – reporters often ask them how they feel their reputation will be after whatever happened. And more often than not, the politician will say history will judge them properly on their action. This is the basis behind the book Power Plays by political analyst Dick Morris.
Power Plays takes on several politicians from the last century and a half and categorizes defining moments in their terms, then compares and contrasts their actions to others – some who faced adversity and did well, and those who did not, and in either case why. It does so in a way that is not of a single opinion, quoting many books, authors and people who knew the subjects, which are all compiled in a lengthy format at the back of the book.
A takeaway from the book is that history repeats itself. Where the times or technology may be different, people tend to make the same mistakes of others, even those who held a similar position. Another is a reaffirmation of the popular phrase “keep your friends close and enemies closer” as in politics, and not much differently than in business, you must build bridges and get buy-in from those against you in order to achieve your own personal or group’s goals and tasks.
My biggest takeaway from the book was to simply be honest. This is something I have always strived for, and is usually the toughest thing to do. Whether it is the task at hand or a business situation or something personal impacting your role in business, the honest approach is usually the best path to take, and many times less complicated than a web of lies. And isn’t it more about how we overcome what has happened than what happened itself?
On the note of honesty, the book interestingly concludes with a comparison to former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s honesty with their respective countrymen about the realities of World War II in comparison to how former President Lyndon Baines Johnson handled communication during the Vietnam War. In his introduction to this section, he makes somewhat of a prediction about the war on terror in Afghanistan – the book was written in 2002 – and states that current President George Bush should follow the FDR/Churchill path of communication rather than the Johnson path in whatever happens in our fighting in the Middle East. It is interesting to read this part in 2007, and I will leave any political opinion to you when you read the book.
Power Plays is an enjoyable text on leadership and history and I highly recommend it. I was pleased I liked the book in the end. I bought the book at a reading Morris did shortly after it came out, along with another book he wrote, Vote.com, which I thought was horrible. Morris is listed as being “behind” the site along with his wife, and the book simply lacked any real substance in my opinion. Maybe that’s why Power Plays sat on my bookshelf for a long time? It was, however, worth the wait.
This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.
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