Power and Getting Along – You won’t believe what Clementine Churchill wrote to Winston!

A letter from Clementine Churchill to her husband Winston, then British Prime Minister during WWII.

My Darling,

I hope you will forgive me if I tell you something you ought to know.

One of the men in your entourage (a devoted friend) has been to me & told me that there is danger of your being generally disliked by your colleagues and subordinates because of your rough sarcastic & overbearing manner – It seems your Private Secretaries have agreed to behave like school boys &’take what’s coming to them’  & then escape out of your presence shrugging their shoulders – Higher up, if an idea is suggested (say at a conference) you are supposed to be so contemptuous that presently no ideas, good or bad, will be forthcoming. I was astonished & upset because in all these years I have been accustomed to all those who have worked with & under you, loving you – I said this, & I was told ‘No doubt it’s the strain’ –

My Darling Winston, I must confess that I have noticed a deterioration in your manner; and you are not as kind as you used to be.

It is for you to give the Orders & if they are bungled – except for the King, the Archbishop of Canterbury & the Speaker, you can sack anyone & everyone. Therefore with this terrific power you must combine urbanity, kindness and if possible Olympic calm. … – ‘ I cannot bear that those who serve the Country & yourself should not love you as well as admire & respect you –

Besides, you won’t get the best results by irascibility & rudeness. They will breed either dislike or a slave mentality (Rebellion in War time being out of the question!)

Please forgive your loving devoted & watchful


From Clementine Churchill,

By her daughter Mary Soames

Clarity Around Coaching

Coaching is designed to help you get better at something. The right type of coach can help your hit a bat, for example. Or in this case, to elevate your communication skills to navigate any kind of conversation with ease.

It is a future focused, goal oriented working partnership.

An Important Distinction – Therapy, Consulting, Coaching

Just say for the sake of discussion, you want to develop your bike riding skill.

If you go to a Therapist, the Therapist might say, “Approach the bike. How does it feel? Do you have any previous experience with bikes?”

If you go to a Consultant, he or she will learn how to ride a bike if they don’t already know, and give you detailed notes.

If you go to a Coach, the Coach will say, ”Get on the bike and start riding and I’ll walk along beside you until you can do it yourself”.

Therapy focuses on insight to resolve past issues. Consulting is an exchange is information based on expertise. Coaching works with focused goal(s) until the goal(s) are achieved.

One conversation, Two Ways – Spot the Huge Difference

He started it! The Franco vs Brantley Exchange

Except for the cat and baby videos, social media squeals with outrage and accusation. You can still hear it, almost, even when your devices are turned off.  But an incident jumped the shark and I read about in today’s newspaper.

The actor James Franco’s Broadway debut was as George in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.  How lucky to debut in such a poignant role with Chris O’Dowd as Lennie. Franco’s performance was reviewed by the New York Times as “respectful”, “generally inert” and that both actors “wear their archetypes like armour”. Then, like a hair tweezed from a nostril came the comment that Franco’s performance was “understated to the point of near invisibility”. 

That was the initial volley. Then came Franco’s return on Instagram posting the review from Variety which called his performance “flawless”.  Franco went on to say – get this – that the reviewer Ben Brantley and the NYT “had embarrassed themselves. Brantley is such a little bitch he should be working for Gawker.com instead of the paper of record”. Insulted now are Franco, the NYT, Brantley and Gawker.com.

I didn’t see the performance so I can’t comment on whether it was ‘nearly invisible’ or ‘flawless’. But I would suggest that performance critique or any kind of critique can be offered filled with sharp objects or with all the intelligence and experience possessed by the reviewer to recommend something, or not. In this case I felt whooshed back to grade 8, the meanest place of all. 

Sadly, Franco did the same thing back to Brantley and put some spin on it to drive in those sharp objects. According to him Brantley is a “bitch” AND “an idiot”.

Look at what these two professional men have created! If Brantley had considered a less vicious approach Franco might have paid more attention and possibly learned something. He might say in 20 years’ time, “It was Ben Brantley of the NYT who said a really important…” That will not come from this. And Franco could have remained silent and relaxed in the hammock of his “flawless” review.  Social media doesn’t hurt people’s feelings, people do. Don’t keep picking at the scab, let the wound heal over and away you go. Not sure what Chris O’Dowd did but I haven’t heard anything, and I won’t go looking for it either. 

There, that’s better.