Because the Pritzker Military Library has blessed me with so much content recently, I feel compelled to comment on some of it while it is still on my mind.
On November 12, 2005, Doris Kearns Goodwin spoke to the Library about Abraham Lincoln and her hugely successful book, Team of Rivals. She commented on what she perceived to be President Lincoln’s finest quality, his “emotional intelligence.”
Interestingly enough, David Kilcullen spoke at the Library on June 18, 2009, about his book The Accidental Guerilla, and about 55 minutes in said this about soldiers in counterinsurgency:
“The thing that distinguishes the guys most successful on the ground is actually emotional intelligence. The ability to sit with trival leadeers and figure out how to engage with them – you can’t write it in a book, you know – it’s a finger tip feel.”
**Additionally, at 47 minutes in, Kilcullen discusses the proper role of language training:
“Rightly so, a lot has been made of training American military guys in foreign languages; that’s important. But you can take that American soldier, give that guy 10 years of nothing but Arabic training and nothing but Arabic culture, Arabic geography, history, and Iraqi societal stuff and that person is still going to be at the level of an Iraqi 10 year old.
You’re better off to just get an Iraqi. We found that when we had a partnership, with a lot of people that spoke a little bit of [Arabic], and we had an Iraqi police officer standing next to a US civilian and an Iraqi military officer and a US military guy -when we had that partnership in place, the performance of everybody improved. That was the most fundamental thing in terms of understanding the environment.”
With Steve Jobs passing this last week, I thought it appropriate to remember his company’s famous slogan. He also frequently employed Wayne Gretzky’s famous dictum about good hockey players going to where the puck is, but great players going to where the puck is going to be. These concepts run in synch with one of my favorite essays, “Solitude and Leadership” by William Deresiewicz, and how critical independent thought development is to the exercise of leadership.