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Monday, April 13, 2015

Harley King

Maya Pyramids - Mexico       

My most memorable class in high school was American History my junior year, not because of the subject but because of the teacher.  He encouraged me to think.  In college, I took only required history classes and I could not tell you anything about them today.  History was not something that inspired me.  I came from the generation that spouted such slogans as "Don't Trust anyone over 30."

I did not discover the value of history until I was in my early forties.  I was taking a trip to Mexico with my family and decided to read something about the history of Mexico.  I read the book, The Conquest of New Spain, by Bernal Diaz del Castillo.  Diaz was a soldier with Hernan Cortez when he conquered the Aztecs.  He wrote this first hand account years later.  I was hooked.  I was soon reading other books of history as well as biographies and memoirs.

Buddha - Asia
History at its heart is about storytelling, not dates and names.  And history like all good stories has many lessons to teach if we are paying attention.  Nations and their leaders, unfortunately, have a tendency to repeat the mistakes of the past.  We never seem to be able to learn from history.  By the second or third generation after a key historical event, the lessons are being forgotten.

But history goes beyond nations and their leaders.  Artistic disciplines also have a history.  Beginning artists study past artists.  Beginning writers study great writers.  Beginning musicians study previous musicians.  Failure to know the historical roots of one's artistic profession will often lead to mediocre artistic endeavors.  As creative leaders we need to know from where we came.

The same is true in business.  If business leaders do not know the history their organization and their industry, they will make the same mistakes that their predecessors did.  History has so much to teach.  We need to pay attention.

And we also have personal histories.  Where were you born?  What was your childhood like? Do you know the history of your family? What mistakes did you make?  Have you learned from your mistakes?  Or have you repeated your mistakes again and again?

May you learn the lessons that history has to teach and pass them onto others.

Machu-pichu, Peru, Inca