I had every intention of posting regularly over the past few weeks but somehow the days slipped by. By way of extenuation, in Australia this time of the year it is high summer and most Aussies will try and take it as easy as they can over Christmas and New Year.
Not that I relaxed completely, as I had some work to do that could not be delayed. But I did enough relaxing – and while on a visit to Sydney enough socializing with family and friends – that I am certainly feeling very refreshed and more eager for work now than I was feeling in the last days of the year now gone.
One of the best things about the break was that I gave myself the chance to re-read a couple of books I had not read for many years, Leo Tolstoy’s epics War and Peace and Anna Karenina. I had really forgotten what “page-turners” these amazing books are, as well as what marvellous stories they are and what insights and essays they contain on the human condition and the great questions of life.
Reading these classics has made me very aware that my brain and imaginative faculties have not lately been stimulated nearly enough by a diet of blogs, management books and books on business, blogging, and related topics, material which may be interesting enough but is nevertheless not usually as intellectually or imaginatively challenging as I like.
And I recognized once more that great works of fiction such as Count Leo Tolstoy’s epics, albeit fiction within an historical context, as well as teaching or re-teaching me about life, love and the pursuit of happiness, can often teach me much more about such mundane matters as management, leadership and business than a battery of management, leadership or business books. For example, Tolstoy’s accounts of how the leaders on both sides conducted themselves in some of the great campaigns and battles of the Napoleonic wars are full of wry and often quite savage observations about how people behave in challenging circumstances, and how, for example, the fate of armies and nations can turn so much on chance, despite the best laid plans of men, even generals and field-marshals!
Again, his depiction of the pompous, self-regarding and self-congratulatory behaviour of government officials engaged on endless games of committee work gave me much amusement and also more than one shudder of recognition of what had no doubt been at least in part my own behaviour, on occasions when I too had played such games in the “service of the public”.
So a key resolution for me this year is to get back into older habits of reading great fiction. At present, I might stick with the Russians for a while – there’s The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment,… I see a few late nights coming up, but lots of mental, emotional and spiritual challenge and refreshment.
Good for business? I think so, but that’s not the reason. All work and no play etc. And it beats the boring television we have in this non-ratings, “silly season”.