The Harry Truman Way

What’s in Your Library? What’s in Your Head? How about Harry Truman’s Way.

Probably tons of books, videos, audiotapes and CDs, if you are like most docs.

A bigger question is which ones have the biggest impact on you and why?

For the last few months, one of my recreational reads has been “Truman”, by David McCullough. All 996 pages. Now, biographies can be laborious, but this one captures the detailed essence of one of the men to make multiple landmark decisions that changed the face of the planet forever.

The thing that is perhaps most striking to me is that he embraced a very simple lifestyle, despite everything else, even while in the White House. He never lost his sense of values of family, focus, true friendship and physical fitness. In fact, today, we might call him a fitness freak, (except for the shot of bourbon following each mornings exercise session).

He frequently retreated, much to the chagrin of the Secret Service to hideaways, really cherishing his time in Key West. Loved his time off.

And then in the office, hit it hard, often accomplishing way more than those around him thought possible. Worked incredible stints. Pissed a few people off with his habits, more than once, usually those who couldn’t get out of their own way.

He was doggedly persistent, blowing away entire teams of staff with his energy, purpose and convictions. “Give ‘em hell Harry!” was way more than a slogan.

The chapter on the 1948 presidential campaign is worth reading by itself. This was a very driven man, who despite incredible odds, and adversity, brutal media swipes at him, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in history, while Dewey his opponent destroyed himself, little by little each week.

So what’s my point? Several takeaways here. First of all, he knew what he wanted. Never stopped till he got it. NEVER! He stayed incredibly fit, well into later life. Knew when to back away, and frequently mentally retreated to refresh his mind and spirit. Incredibly organized, scheduled, focused.

Sound familiar? It should, as these are the same characteristics of the happiest, most successful men and women throughout history.

What exactly are the steps? Here’s how Harry would do it in a modern practice platform: 

  1. Find out FIRST exactly what you want. And this of course changes throughout life. Regularly seek the guidance of your coach, and your soul.
  2. Unshakeable data management and retrieval systems. Use all the most modern and fastest tools available to the biggest advantage, to save tons of personal time.
  3. Staffing. No BS here. Only hire appropriate staff members. Lovingly guide those around you with vision and purpose, eliminate those who can’t or won’t.
  4. Let everybody know just what you are about, and why. Gently describing benefits of doing things your way. Not paying attention to those who reject your philosophy.
  5. Austerity. Accumulating eventual wealth, even having miserably failed or bankrupt (like Harry).
  6. Continually reassess, adjust and fine tune. On a regularly scheduled basis.

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