reading and leadership

A book is a world

Charlie Munger once said: “I’ve met all the smart people in my life, from all walks of life, who don’t read every day. No, not a single one.” I want to say, about why managers When it comes to reading, there is no word that can be said more clearly than this one.

We all know that leadership is especially important to organizations. Management has a research conclusion, that is, a leader’s vision, pursuit, height, realm, pattern, mind and values ​​are often decisive for the future of the organization.

There are many factors that determine the development of an organization, the most important of which is the leader of the organization. The biggest challenge in the process of organizational growth comes from the challenge to the individual leader. In the end, it’s a matter of leadership. The level of entrepreneurial leadership determines the level of the enterprise; the height of leadership determines the height of the enterprise; the realm of leadership determines the realm of the enterprise; the orientation of leadership determines the orientation of the enterprise; the limitations of leadership , but also determines the limitations of the enterprise.

So, what exactly is the core of leadership? In my opinion, it is 8 words: get out of the small self and achieve the big self.

Dalio, who wrote the book “Principles”, once said that we ordinary people are actually like ants. In our short life, we are absorbed in carrying bread crumbs, but have no time to broaden our horizons. Reading is the most effective, if not the only, way to broaden your horizons and improve your leadership skills. A book is a world. The process of reading is actually a process that helps us break through the limitations of individuals and enter a larger world.

Speaking of reading, in 1939, Mao Zedong said a wonderful sentence when summarizing the inspection work meeting of the Eighth Route Army’s Yan’an Headquarters General Station: “With knowledge, it is like standing on a mountain, you can see things far and far. Without knowledge, If you walk in a dark ditch and you can’t figure it out, it will be miserable.” A person’s growth, a person’s self-breakthrough process, is largely his reading history. That’s why we have this sentence: In your temperament, there are the paths you have traveled, the books you have read, and the people you have loved.

Mao Zedong was the greatest leader in the hearts of the Chinese people, and he was a lifelong lover of books. From him, we can clearly see a leader’s love for reading and the impact of reading on a leader.

When Mao Zedong was a child, he borrowed books everywhere, and during the Revolutionary War he looked for books everywhere. When the Red Army conquered Zhangzhou in 1931, he obtained a copy of Engels’ “Anti-Dühring”, which he kept with him at any time. During the Long March, the Red Army was displaced, but whenever Mao Zedong went to a larger place, he first asked if he had books. His confidential secretary once had a recollection: During the Long March, the Red Army once captured a county seat. There were many rich households in the county seat, and rich households often had book collections. Mao Zedong was very happy and told the guards to find him a copy of “Water Margin”. to read. As a result, the little soldier was busy for a long time and was looking for a kettle.

The Long March Red Army arrived in Aba and laid down the Zhuokeji Guanzhai of the Tibetan Tusi Suoguanying. I have visited this place several times when I brought students on-site teaching. There is a “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” in Chinese in the official village, and Mao Zedong is like a treasure. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, when he met Suo Guanying, he specifically mentioned this matter and gave him a new set of “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. The saddest thing about Mao Zedong was that sometimes he had to give up all his books during the march.

After the Long March arrived in northern Shaanxi, it was a little more settled, but there were still no books to read in northern Shaanxi. Mao Zedong wrote many times to Ye Jianying, who worked for the United Front in Xi’an, asking them to help buy books, including borrowing books from Zhang Xueliang. One of the letters was particularly impressive to me, and it specifically said a sentence: Buy a copy of Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

Snow also remembered something in “Romance to the West”: I went to see him every night for a while to interview him about the history of the Communist Party. Once a guest brought him some new books on philosophy, so Mao Zedong asked me to reschedule and talk about it. He spent three or four nights reading these books, during which time he seemed to ignore everything.

After entering Beijing, Mao Zedong asked the secretary to do one thing: give him all the books published by the Commercial Press and Zhonghua Book Company before liberation. Of course this is difficult to do. But his personal collection reached tens of thousands in 1966, and many books were repeatedly annotated. And he often goes to the library to borrow books. The Beijing Library is today’s National Library, and the new card is issued. Mao Zedong’s library card is No. 1. We’ve all probably seen his bedroom pictures too. His bedroom is not so much a bedroom as it is a study. Half of the bed was given books.

Trier, a biographer of Mao Zedong, once said: “Mao Zedong knew a lot about the outside world. He read constantly. There was no other world leader in the middle of this century – not even Charles de Gaulle. — read as many books as Mao Zedong did.”

Mission and Thought

Today’s topic is reading and leadership. Why is reading so important to leader growth? My understanding is that two key elements of leadership cannot be separated from reading.

The first element is the leader’s mission. Almost all leaders have opened themselves up through reading, and thus have their own clear goals and pursuits in life. Only after Zeng Guofan arrived in Beijing did he know that he could be a sage, so he wrote the motto “If you are not a sage, you will be a beast”, and thus embarked on the road of leadership improvement of virtue and meritorious deeds. Mao Zedong read “Water Margin” and “The Romance of Sui and Tang Dynasties” when he was a child, and planted the seeds of a revolutionary. The book that had a great influence on him was “Biography of Heroes in the World”, which talked about the heroes of the world such as Washington, Napoleon, and Peter the Great, which gave him the ambition to be a hero. He told his friends: China should also have such people.

The reason why a rural child later changed China and the world, from seeing himself, to seeing heaven and earth, to seeing all beings, is because he discovered a larger world and higher life value in the book. Today, our entrepreneurs will also experience the transition from buying and selling, doing business to being an enterprise, to being an enterprise that creates social value and promotes human progress. Otherwise, it can only be a reckless hero at most.

Reading can improve our vision, realm, pattern and mind. Especially in today’s turbulent and uncertain times, we are anxious because we only see what is in front of us and are entangled in the gains and losses of the moment and the place. The advantage of reading is that it allows us to jump out of the limitations of the here and now, penetrate the fog of the moment and the place, and grasp the various disturbances in front of us from a larger pattern and a longer-term perspective, so as to turn the confusion and anxiety into a sudden enlightenment. And calm and calm, and finally develop strategic concentration.

Of course, reading is not only for entrepreneurs to understand what to do in this life, but more importantly, how to do it.

We found a very interesting phenomenon, that is, in enterprises, especially start-up enterprises, executives often quarrel over the arrangement of specific affairs such as people, finances, and materials, and no one agrees with the other. Why?

Without a unified underlying logic, the cognition of the world is different, and the way of thinking and values ​​are not unified. So we quarreled, basically talking about chickens and ducks. If we unify our cognition, our style of play, our values, and our underlying logic, many problems will not be problems at all. What remains is how to do better.

And this requires jumping out of the specific business and affairs in front of you to form a unified idea.

Why is Ren Zhengfei so powerful? Thought. Why is Mao Zedong so powerful? Thought. Why do we want to listen to and love to listen to Mr. Song Zhiping’s sharing today? Thought. Where do ideas come from? Practice plus reading. Reading is indispensable.

Of course, we can work hard, explore, figure out, summarize, and accumulate our own experience step by step, but we will experience many failures, encounter many bottlenecks, go through many detours, and waste a lot of time and resources. In the end, I suddenly discovered that the lessons I have received have been learned many times by others; the experience I have summed up has been summed up many times by others.

It is said that when Napoleon was imprisoned on the island of St. Helena, he read Sun Tzu’s Art of War and said, “If I had read this book earlier, I would not have failed.” Whether this story is true or not, there is no way to verify it. , but a person’s experience and understanding are always limited, and genius is probably no exception. A good book provides rules and principles based on the experience and lessons of countless people, so that people can better and faster understand themselves and the world they live in, as well as the logic behind their behavior.

The greatest thing about Mao Zedong is that he was a thoughtful man. Why does he study? The process of reading is the process of thinking. He refined his thoughts and unified the thoughts of the whole party and the whole army. His “Strategic Issues in China’s Revolutionary War”, which Lin Biao called “Mao Zedong’s Strategic Theory”, influenced almost all members of the CCP organization’s basic understanding of the laws and strategies of China’s revolution, and it was full of condensed ideas. He unified the whole party and the whole army ideologically, which is the key to his becoming the leader of the CCP. The victory of the Communist Party is, first of all, the power of thought. A leader without ideas can’t lead a team, let alone achieve great things.

Mission is what to do, thought is how to do it. This is the core of leadership, and it’s all about reading.

How Entrepreneurs Read

One is to read the classics and read them repeatedly.

Today is an era of information explosion and an era of extremely rapid changes. Every day there is a flood of information, and a lot of books and articles are born. Faced with these, each of us will have a feeling of being at a loss in our hearts, and we don’t know what to read if we want to read. In fact, the more you are in such an era, the more you should calm down, go back to the classics, and read the classics.

There is a poem by Su Dongpo: “I never tire of reading old books, and I am familiar with deep thinking and self-knowledge.” The reason why a classic in a field is a classic is that few people can think and understand this field as thoroughly as this classic. , so profound. Such a book, history and reality have already proved its value, and it must be worthy of our familiarity and deep contemplation. To read the classics is to have a dialogue with the master. This is the most effective way to improve your thinking level.

The second is to use Chinese reading and reading living books.

There are books with words and books without words. Society is a book without words, a bigger book. The truth in the book comes from social practice, but not social practice itself. The truth that the book can reveal is only a part of it, and even the best truth has its limitations. So reading can’t read dead books.

Mao Zedong once said: “Reading is learning, using is learning, and it is more important learning. Learning war from war is our main method.” Reading must be problem-conscious. The best way to read is to read in relation to reality, and to be good at combining the general laws in books with our specific practices.

Therefore, two misunderstandings should be avoided in reading. One is one-sided dogmatism, which believes that all books are right and follows every step; the other is narrow empiricism, which believes that books are all scholars’ opinions and are useless.

A good book can teach us mostly basic principles and concepts, but the specific application of principles and concepts requires our own understanding. No one will fight a war with books alone, just as no one will govern with books alone. All good books provide not ready-made action guides, nor bluffing talk and packaging, but provide inspiration for thinking, including insight into phenomena and judgment on affairs, based on summed up experience. In a word, it provides living wisdom, not dead clauses.

This requires us on the one hand to respect and learn from the experience of our predecessors or people today, as well as the laws summed up on this basis; on the other hand, and more importantly, to creatively apply these laws to our own management practice and develop these laws in practice. This is the realm that entrepreneurs should have when reading.

The third is hierarchical reading and institutionalization.

The impact of reading on the enterprise will not be immediate, its impact is subtle, but it is also strategic and long-term. Entrepreneurs reading, itself is a manifestation of long-termism, requiring long-term investment and accumulation. More importantly, entrepreneurs cannot read alone. Entrepreneurs read, their realm and level are getting higher and higher, but other members of the organization do not read, the entrepreneur’s thinking and realm can only be farther and farther away from the team, which may be disastrous for an organization.

Therefore, good entrepreneurs must not only read by themselves, but take the lead in reading, and more importantly, turn reading into an institutionalized behavior, an important means of building a learning organization, and an important part of business management. Organization section.

We said earlier that the victory of the Communist Party is the victory of thought. Do we know how this kind of thought came to fruition? It is institutionalized learning, and it is implemented layer by layer.

Mao Zedong was the leader, and he wrote a series of ideological works such as “Strategic Problems in China’s Revolutionary War”. Lin Biao, as the commander of the Northeast Field Army, later called the Four Fields, was equivalent to the head of the region. On the basis of repeated reading of Mao Zedong’s strategic theory and thought, and combined with the combat practice of the Northeast Field Army, he extracted a series of tactical concepts, such as Everyone is familiar with the one-point, two-face, three-three system, four-fast and one-slow, four groups and one team, and so on. This turns Mao Zedong’s strategic thinking into a method that can be implemented concretely. Then Lin Biao spoke to the column commander himself, the column commander went back to speak to his division commander, the division commander went back to speak to the regiment commander, and so on, until the squad leader spoke to his soldiers. This is all open and landed.

What is the three-three system? When attacking, three soldiers formed a zig-zag formation. One soldier in the front, two soldiers in the back, called the front triangle. Two soldiers in the front, one soldier in the back, called the rear triangle. A class is the same. There are three groups in a class, one group is in the front and two groups are in the back, which is called the front triangle. Two groups are in the front and one group is in the back, called the rear triangle. This can also be done with a platoon of three classes, a company with three platoons, and so on, and a column with three divisions can do the same. In theory, a soldier, you can understand the play of a small group, you can understand the tactics of the entire column. All open up and down. This is called the same desire.

What does this inspire us? It is impossible to conquer the world with one book bag. Read a book from president to employee? Sounds great, but it doesn’t actually work. Lin Biao couldn’t ask ordinary soldiers to read Chairman Mao’s Theory of Strategy. After all, employees at different levels in an enterprise face different problems, different needs, different understanding abilities, and different books to read.

What executives need are ideas and ideas, while what the grassroots need are operational methods to solve specific problems. So reading must be graded. Just like the Communist Party, from Mao Zedong’s thought, to Lin Biao’s tactical philosophy, to the specific tactics of soldiers, it has been implemented step by step.

On the one hand, it needs to be institutionalized, and on the other hand, it needs to be hierarchical. The president should take the lead in reading, and the core executives should read a book, read together, and unify the concept and cognition. More importantly, we must learn to combine these concepts and cognition with the practice of enterprise management to form our own specific, targeted, and actionable play, just like the tactical concept summed up by Lin Biao, and then Share these things with every member of the organization through institutionalized learning layer by layer.

Therefore, the reading of entrepreneurs and executives is only a starting point, digest and absorb its essence, and combine their own business practice to extract their own ideas, and turn them into specific methods that can be operated by the employees of the enterprise, so that it can be regarded as the end. Such reading is the complete enterprise reading. This kind of learning is really effective learning. Such an organization can truly achieve the same desire from top to bottom. This kind of reading can not only enhance the leadership of the individual entrepreneur, but also enhance the leadership of the enterprise as a whole, so as to lead the enterprise to real excellence.

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