Analysis: Washington – A Life

Washington_A_Life_book_coverSurveyor, Farmer, Statesman, General, President, Father of a Nation. George Washington held many titles throughout the course of his life, but few in the annals of history can claim the latter. He is a figure of legendary stature, both today and even amongst his peers. It is well known that part of this mystic and legend comes from Washington’s stoic, calm nature (the book’s author refers to him as ‘The Man of Marble’), but there is a lot more to him than that. And that is what makes Washington – A Life (Ron Chernow) so great, and while I feel it was important enough to warrant this post. While it is a beast of a book (comes in at almost a thousand pages), it is a text  that should go on anyone’s to-read list who considers themselves a student of improvement and success, and who seeks to make an impact in the world. It is most definitely going on my Resources list.

The title of the text is very apropos to the subject matter, as this is a book purely on George Washington’s life. There is very little actual analysis in the book, even though it’s large enough to rival the Bible in density. Chernow simply relates facts and actions from Washington’s life, mostly through letters and first-hand accounts from the era. The amount of research and detail that must have gone into this book is simply staggering. But Chernow leaves it up to you to analyze Washington and draw your own conclusions on what made him so great. And because there is such a wealth of information here, its not that hard to do, and by book’s end you are left with a very clear picture of just who George Washington was and what it was about him that made him such a great leader. Continue reading

Do Nothing to Do Everything – Meditating and Reflection

How many times do you go to bed with a headache, completely flustered by the events of your day? Only to wake up, check your email, and have it hit you all over again. You wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day, but then you check your email, or Twitter, or whatever else, and immediately let the stresses and concerns of other people hit you, and the headache immediately returns (or maybe you still wake up with all the mental baggage from the day before weighing you down).

In today’s age, its increasingly easy to get lost in the agenda of your day, to let the multitude of things you feel that you have to get done come crashing in on you and wear you down mentally. By the end of the day, you feel exhausted, but at the same time you don’t feel as if your getting anything done. Or maybe you did, but it wasn’t what you wanted, or wasn’t really that important to you. Part of this issue is setting proper goals for yourself, and time management. But the other part is just getting through the daily grind, staying committed to those goals when life gets you stressed out.

We all have the ability to fight this feeling. The ability to stay focused on what it is we want to do, no matter what gets thrown our way. This ability is MeditationMarcus Aurelius calls it ‘retreating to your inner citadel.’ Hosts of other successful people do this exact same thing; putting life on pause, taking a step back, and reflecting. You have to make time for yourself before all else, even if that time is only 5 minutes (as Tim Ferriss says: “If you don’t have 30 minutes to meditate, you need 3 hours”). Continue reading