wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Theodore Zeldin (1933- )Theodore Zeldin


English philosopher, historian and sociologist (pictured right), best known for his history of French culture and support for humane and creative relationships at work.


Key book

An Intimate History of Humanity (1994)


Here are Zeldin's tips on people and organizations:


1. Kindness is king

People need to help others for their self-respect.

Hope is the cause of kindness (or as Zeldin puts it: “Hope is the origin of humanity”).


2. Connected community

Everyone is inter-connected, so you can influence others by doing things for them individually and in groups.

Collective action needs both individual effort and effective co-operation.


3. Creativity through curious conversation
Creativity depends on conversation, risk taking and intuitive, imaginary thinking.

New attitudes, says Zeldin, are “spread, almost like an infection, from one person to another”. 


4. Empowering leadership

The best leaders get people to find solutions for themselves through:

  • mutual trust.
  • modest humility.
  • promise keeping.
  • integrity.
  • listening to (and acting upon) other people's needs.

Heroes “open the world up to one another” and don't cheat.

You have to win respect because obedience is never guaranteed.


5. Motivating work

Money isn't enough to motivate people.

They must be recognized as spiritual beings who need interesting work and work-life balance.

But over-work is leading to stress and family problems.


6. Be happy!

Happiness comes not from things but:

  • helping others.
  • worthwhile work.
  • leisure.
  • friendship based upon an “intimacy of minds”  (common aims and interests).


7. Love learning and change

We must learn from experience, using our imagination to find similarities between past and present events.

Change isn't easy because it needs people's support and co-operation (based upon jointly agreed aims, attitudes and actions).

Imposing change won't work because “new habits of mind cannot be put on like a clean shirt ”  and “need time to establish themselves”, says Zeldin.


Key quote on success and happiness

No amount of status or reward will compensate for your inadequacy as a human being.

How can people believe themselves to be free if they have no space in their lives where nothing is expected of them, and if they are always late or in a hurry?


Key quote on the past, present and future

The past is what provides us with the building blocks. Our job today is to create new buildings out of them.

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