WHAT STUFF IS A PRESIDENT MADE OF? (Refreshing Leadership Lessons from the Presidency of George W. Bush)


I must admit, this post is rather long compared to what I’m used to if you’re a regular reader of my blog. But suffer it to be so. I think alternatively I should have titled it – What Stuff Is A Leader Made Of? Reason being that the issues raised herein apply to all categories of leaders.

One of the books I read lately is Dead Certain: the Presidency of George W. Bush by Robert Draper. It’s a political narrative of the presidency of the 43rd US president, George W. Bush. To say the least, it was an interesting and engaging read.

I have always believed the fact that to become a leader and succeed as one (in any field) you need to know how other leaders think. You just must find a way of getting inside the brain of successful leaders. And one way is through reading their thoughts – in the form of books!

This is why I have always invested my money and time in the purchase and study of biographies of leaders – spiritual and religious, political and business, leaders of every shade and kind. Success leaves clues. And if you will follow the markings, you won’t miss your way.

Whatever you think of George Walker Bush and his presidency, I cannot but personally confess my admiration of him as a leader of one of the world’s greatest democracies. I can relate to the kind of decisions he had to make against the backdrop of the events that surrounded his leadership tenure. Reading the biographies and memoirs of him and several other presidents and world leaders like Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Obafemi Awolowo, Queen Elizabeth II of England, Mohandas K. Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., I think I quite well understand the burden of political leadership. In view of this I can only pray for my dear country Nigeria: Lord, send us men!

Not boys in the cloak of men, but real men formed in the crucibles of real life: solid men and women, not political jobbers and sheer opportunists who presently bestrode the corridors of power and places of influence masquerading as leaders; men who lead with posterity in view; principled women, men of substance; strong as oaks, sturdy against the storms. Lord, send us men!

I gained some refreshing insights from the book: not new concepts but noteworthy as epitomized in a politician’s life. I highlight the lessons and put the actual words of Bush in quote:

1. REAL LEADERSHIP IS PRINCIPLE-CENTERED, if I may borrow that from the late Steve Covey. Bush said, “I ran for reasons. Principled reasons. Principles which I will stand on. And when I leave this office I’ll stand on them…” Leaders must learn to live and lead by principles. Not by whims and impulses, political grandstanding nor pandering to a crowd. As parents, CEOs, pastors or leaders in any field, we must have an internal compass that guides our thoughts, actions and decisions.

2. LEADERSHIP RUNS ON THE FUEL OF PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL STAMINA. Bush commented that in “the presidency…you get tired. Exercise helps. And I think prayer helps. I really do.” He reportedly started his days with Bible reading and devoted two hours to exercising daily. If a sitting US president thinks fitness and health that necessary, then we’d better sit up. We may not have a job like his but a responsibility no less! As leaders we need to prioritize our health and devotional life.

3. A LEADER MUST BE DISCIPLINED. “I’m sustained by discipline. I don’t think I’ll be sitting here if not for the discipline. I was undisciplined at times. Never over the edge, but undisciplined. I wouldn’t be president if I kept drinking. You get sloppy, can’t make decisions, it clouds your reason, absolutely.” See that! We need discipline to lead, ourselves first before others. Whatever needs fixing in your life right now, had better be fixed before it takes you down.

4. LEADERS ARE READERS. Reading improves the quality of your thoughts and thereby the quality of your decisions and ultimately your leadership. This blew me away when I read it in the book. Bush said, “I read an interesting book…I’m on my eighty-seventh book this year.” And not only him, he went on to mention that his senior adviser Karl “Rove’s on, like, a hundred two…” and he went on to describe what he read in the book! How I long for the day Mr. President or a cabinet minister, senator, governor or any of their numerous aides will tell us the book he/she is reading presently. God help us in Nigeria! But before you lay onto them, what about you?

Will you be that leader? Will you be that person God finds worthy to lead his/her family, company or nation to the Promised Land? I challenge you to stand up and be counted. You will succeed!

Other Posts similar to this:
I See A New Nigeria
I See A New Nigeria pt 2 of 2
Prayer for Nigeria

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About Yomi Olufiade

My passion, dear friend, is to help you find, follow and fulfill God’s purpose for your life. Not only that, I also want to help you achieve tremendous success with your God-ideas and assignment through this medium via the life-changing truths of the Word of God. I’m sure you won’t remain the same again after interacting with me.

Posted on August 16, 2013, in Bible, Books & Reading, Charcter, Choice, Christian Leadership, Destiny, Discipline, Excellence, Faith, Family, God, Greatness, Health, Inspiration, Leadership, Mentoring, Mind, Ministry, Nation Building, Nigeria, Parenting, Personal Development, Purpose, Reading, Spiritual Growth, Success and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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