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Lesson from Obama: Surround yourself with smart people and listen to them

Before the Iowa caucuses, the Barack Obama campaign had an evening that Iowa precinct captains could gather people to hear Obama on an audio link. It was what we’ve come to know as Barack style: succinct but meaningful. He made three points in that short presentation. The one that impressed me the most was his philosophy for making decisions. I can’t find my notes from that session, but he makes that point over and over. This is from a conversation with Britain's Conservative Party leader David Cameron at the Houses of Parliament in London, Saturday, July 26, 2008.

OBAMA: "The truth is that we've got a bunch of smart people, I think, who know ten times more than we do about the specifics of the topics. And so if what you're trying to do is micromanage and solve everything then you end up being a dilettante but you have to have enough knowledge to make good judgments about the choices that are presented to you."

Civility is respecting others
It was refreshing to hear that more than a year ago and it’s just as refreshing today. Here is a man who today becomes our president who surrounds himself with those who know more than he does on any number of topics. He listens to them. He’s smart and has some knowledge of the topic but he looks to people with expertise in areas he does not have.

There’s humility there, being able to acknowledge he’s not an expert on all things. Another mark of civility.

In many actions leading to this inauguration, Obama has copied actions of President Abraham Lincoln. This is a Lincoln concept: picking the best and the brightest and not necessarily those that agreed with each other or him because he was a leader. It doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly. Look at Lincoln’s experience with generals in the Civil War. But ultimately, the man was smart enough to make real progress for his country.

I think Obama will be a decider, but in an entirely new manner with lots of civility.

P.S. dilettante, dabbler, sciolist, (an amateur who engages in an activity without serious intentions and who pretends to have knowledge)

P.P. S. Isn’t Obama’s command of the English language impressive?


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