A Failure of Nerve (New York: Seabury Books, 1999)

Failure of Nerve is not light reading.  But if you desire to not be a light person it may just be the book for you.

Friedman wrote most of this book before his death and a team put out the finished product. He considered it the summation of all his ideas.  Anyone in any type of leadership role–parent, teacher, executives, presidents, city officials–should take this as required reading.

Leaders will always find themselves in situations where “anxiety” is rampant.  That’s when a failure of nerve happens.  Leaders allow that anxiety to keep them from what they are in position to do: lead.

Here’s one of the many great quotes from Friedman.  In describing who this book is not for he says:

It is not for those who fail to see how in any family or institution a perpetual concern for consensus leverages power to the extremists.

What one can learn from reading this book is that a leader will move his or her focus from how to motivate others to a focus on the leader’s own presence and being.  As Friedman says:

What counts is the leader’s presence and being, not technique and know-how.

If you think that leadership in America is hurting then get a copy of this book.

Friedman will have you start with yourself.

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