Gene Siskel used to say his favorite movies were about what people actually do all day. That’s what “Secretariat” is. It pays us the compliment of really caring about thoroughbred racing. In a low-key way, it conveys an enormous amount of information. And it creates characters who, because of spot-on casting, are vivid, human and complex.
Roger Ebert’s Review of Secretariat
Call this some misc. observations…
Back on some best-seller lists is the excellent book, how: Why HOW we Do Anything Means Everything…In Business (and in Life) by Dov Seidman. The current version is a re-issue, with updates, of the 2007 book. (I presented my synopsis of this book at the August, 2007 First Friday Book Synopsis).
Here are a few quotes from the book, revealing pieces of Seidman’s message.
Reciprocity – doing unto others as they do unto you – seems therefore to be a biological function; trust begets trust. We feel in our guts that keeping promises and connecting with others are what gives our lives meaning, and most of us seek meaning in our lives… If we live in a word more connected than ever before, shouldn’t we all find ways to connect better?
The key to long-term, sustained success does not lie in breaking all the rules; it lies in transcending the rules and harnessing the power of values.
To apologize is inherently a dangerous act, but one with latent power. To apologize is to accept responsibility, this we all know, but it is also to cede power to the wronged party. You place in their hands the decision to forgive you or not. Apologizing requires willful vulnerability. It is the ultimate act of transparency…
Culture is the way things really work, the way decisions are really made, e-mails really composed, promotions really earned and meted out, and people really treated every day.
You cannot do success… Success is something you get when you pursue something greater than yourself, and the word I use to describe that something is significance. Pursuing significance, in the end, is the ultimate HOW.
And here are some rather obvious observations.
First is that this book is about real life, the real day-to-day activities, of real people, especially at work. That’s what made me think of Ebert’s reference to Siskel, at the top of this post.
Second, many seem so fixated on “success,” that they just leap over any values considerations. (And, yes, that “many” just might include you and me). But Seidman calls us back to the centrality of values. It is a very good and worthy and noble call.
Third, we really are in this together. Really. Failure in Dallas might hurt someone in Europe. And vice versa. The Euro zone is so vary fragile, that the articles predicting this as their last hour are piling up. And if the Euro Zone collapses, it will hurt us all.
Fourth, it really is somebody’s fault – or, many somebodies. There have been some really, really big mistakes made in recent years. But to find an actual “it’s partly my fault, and I apologize” messenger is practically impossible. Consider again Seidman’s words: “To apologize is inherently a dangerous act, but one with latent power.” It might really do some good for some folks, somewhere, to apologize. But there have been far too few apologies. (And, maybe, far too few lessons learned from mistakes made).
I don’t know what will get us out of this big mess we all seem to be in. But I think a new look at How by Dov Seidman would be a pretty good use of a few hours.
You can purchase my synopsis of that first edition of How by Seidman, with audio + handout, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.
In speech class, I have my students read poems – to work on diction, vocal variery, verbal punch.
Many/most of my students don’t know the poetry. Did you know that practically none of today’s students have ever even heard Casey at the Bat? Astonishing!
One of the poems I have them read is If by Rudyard Kipling; you know, the one that begins with:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…
Here’s a paragraph from Wikipedia about the poem:
It is often voted Britain’s favourite poem. The poem’s line, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same” is written on the wall of the centre court players’ entrance at the British tennis tournament, Wimbledon, and the entire poem was read in a promotional video for the Wimbledon 2008 gentleman’s final by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. (link below).
So, today I’m reading Ebert’s reviews of the new movies for the week (as I do nearly every Friday). He loved Secretariat – four stars, “This is one of the year’s best films” – his most coveted line!
And in his review, Secretariat, this line about Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) jumped out at me:
She looked at the greatest racehorse in the world and knew she was right, when all about her were losing their heads and blaming it on her.
The reading by Federer and Nadal is a protected video, so I can’t imbed it. Watch it here.