leon panetta worthy fights book.fwA business friend told me they were reading Leon Panetta’s 2014 book, Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace. So I got a copy and just finished my profitable journey through it today.

I found out he’s a California boy and enjoyed reading about his history growing up in Monterey.  He still lives in that area and is founder of the Panetta Institute for Leadership located just up the road in Seaside.

I appreciated his leadership perspectives in the last chapter, “Epilogue: Leadership or Crisis.”  He had national government in mind. I have adapted them to all kinds of leadership, preserving the original text in parentheses.

“Where once leadership (government) tackled big things with determination, now it seems overwhelmed with even minor problems.  Some have given up. Many young people…regard leaders (politicians) as small-minded and self-interested, smug guardians of a system rigged to deliver benefits to special interests while ignoring real people in need.”

“To reconcile ourselves to inaction is more than a loss of will. It is a failure of leadership (democratic self-rule).”

“Rediscovering our gift for leadership won’t be simple. It will require sacrifice and compromise, steadiness of purpose and a willingness to listen…”

“Those who lead must learn again to subordinate their self-interest to a larger cause (national interest).”

Leon Panetta reminds us of the value of leadership that is willing to truly care about people, listen, sacrifice, and even lose in the short haul, without losing hope. I want to be that kind of a leader and I hope you do too.

His closing thought was hopeful:

“America’s gifts to me were not ideological or partisan. They were of opportunity and family and security. As Americans, we may disagree on everything from baseball to national defense, but we are united by our most basic needs and by the dreams we have in common.”

Thoughts? Hit reply to email me and comment. Thanks, John Parker