18 May Grant | Ron Chernow
2018: Book #24
It’s a masterpiece.
Ron Chernow’s masterstroke, “Grant” is nothing short of perfection. It’s the 959 page beast, but every single page was a joy. I literally didn’t want it to end.
Ulysses S. Grant was a military general, a U.S. President, and a flawed man, which is why there are just so many leadership lessons in this book.
Here are some of the lessons gleaned from this amazing read:
Grant didn’t know how to separate friendship and leadership. If he was your friend, you could do no wrong, which led to an administration full of fraud and scandal. Odd…a friendship for me gives me access to accountability. If we’re friends, you make me better and I make you better. For Grant, it meant you could do no wrong.
- Grant was a flawed man. He battled alcoholism. He focused on the urgent and not the important. He took care of the needs of the day, but couldn’t plan for the future. He also lacked an overarching vision for the future. Despite these things, he was also a brilliant military mind, a skilled politician and one who defended the rights of the voiceless. The lesson here…flawed leaders can still leave a positive mark on the world. #hope
- Grant loved Lincoln. Grant and his wife, Julia, were invited to be the guests of the Lincolns at Ford’s Theater the night Booth shot Lincoln. They refused the invitation—mainly because Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, was a very difficult woman. For the rest of his life, Grant had nightmares and guilt over not going that night. He felt that—if he had been there—he could have stopped Booth. #friendship
- Leaders like to accomplish things. Grant won the war. He later became the 18th president of the United States. Near the end of his life, he wrote his memoirs. These things gave him purpose.
- Be careful with whom you surround yourself. Many in his cabinet caused him embarrassment through fraud and scandal. He was part of a business deal that went bad. Grant thought he was a millionaire. But when the business collapsed, the bank called the loan. Grant had only $80 to his name. Surround yourself with quality people.
I initially read “Grant” in an effort to get stories about Lincoln—that was a big pay off. The even bigger prize….I got some great stories and lessons from Grant the general, the president, and the man.
“Grant” is a superb book.
BTW…this excerpt made me chuckle.
“It was a miserable time for Grant, who also had to cope with the loss of his false teeth. He had dipped them in a washbasin overnight only to find that his servant had tossed them out with the water the next morning.”
That’s book #24 for 2018.
28 more books to go to reach 52 by the end of the year.
Remember, all leaders are readers.
If you want to be a better leader…be a reader.