Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara

Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara

People talk a lot about Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Robert Kennedy and how their books and autobiography’s have profoundly impacted their life and way of thinking. However out of all the books, papers, blogs video’s lecturers and seminars that I have attended nothing has made more of an impact on my thinking then Errol Morris  Academy award winning ”Fog Of War” which is based on the best seller Eleven lessons from the life of Robert McNamara.

Robert Strange McNamara is one of the most controversial figures in American history if not world history, but I do not wish to deal with these issues here, if you are interested you can take a look at the History section of this blog. However what amazes me about McNamara is his ability to re-examine his reasoning, and admit his own failings.

The following are the 11 lessons which I think stands up to scrutiny both in life and in the business world.

  • Empathize with your enemy
  • Rationality will not save us
  • There’s something beyond one’s self
  • Maximize efficiency
  • Proportionality should be a guideline in war
  • Get the data
  • Belief and seeing are often both wrong
  • Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning
  • In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
  • Never say never
  • You can’t change human nature

For those who are too lazy to read the book, or the even watch the film. This 3 min video will change everything!!


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