Last week was very fulfilling as far as my reading habit is concerned.reading two highly researched books gave me a remarkable insight into the work of leaders.First book 'Heroes' by eminent British historian Paul Johnson is a delightful journey through time with the virtues and vices of heroes like earth shakers : Alexandre,Caesar.Heroes in the roar of the cannon's mouth : Nelson,Wellington .Heroes under the shadow of the axe : the Tudors(Henry 8,Elizabeth 1).Philosopher heroes like Russel and Wittgenstein(his Tractatus's complexity is a delicacy for readers,even though i didn't understand half of just 28 pages book,i enjoyed it thoroughly).Heroines like Mae west and Marilyn Monroe who lived their life on their own terms in the highly exploiting Hollywood of 40s and 50s.What i would like to point here is one of main categories of heroes which Paul Johnson missed are entrepreneurs and i would very much suggest him to add a new chapter "Heroes under the aegis of black swan:Ford,Bill gates,Larry page and Vinod khosla".
with this ,second book which i read needs some attention.It's a shock thrown at you squarely(though some humor is involved).'the black swan: impact of highly improbable' by Nassim Taleb is one of the most insightful work published in recent years.it's the study of what we don't know,anti library(book that we haven't read) and uncertainty in predicting future.so now what the black swan is .it's an event having three characteristics
1.it's highly improbable and unpredictable
2.it carries a massive impact
3.after the fact we concoct an explanation which that makes it appear less random
when i first read about ATM's and EVM's in my 4rth class computer books i thought oh this kind of technology would take at least 20 years to come to India but by the time i was in 10th class we were all using the ATM's.this kind of breakthrough event is black swan.
now about my commentary on the subject ,if we check out the deeds of great heroes in Paul Johnson book we can clearly see how they instigated and designed the black swans events to carve their niche in the highly ambiguous histology.conquest of Alexandre
1.Nobody thought that 40,000 Macedonians would face the 1 lakh mighty Persians.highly improbable.
2.massive impact of the battle-fall of Persian empire,contact between east and west which completely dominated the politics of those areas for more than thousand years.
3.now historians say that invasion was coming .Alexanders father would have defeated Persians had he not died.we concoct an explanation that it was already planned but everyone knows that it was in all regards incredulous.
In this information and media technology age, world has become highly unpredictable instigating black swan events at faster rate than ever.Entrepreneurs are not able to predict even 2 to 3 years in advance now(all those bell curve methods of predicting future is a total nonsense).some make riches under it's aegis like Google,Microsoft while others are completely wiped out .These people push their innovation and risk taking skills to an extreme to even survive let alone being successful.gone are the days of Napoleon,Patton,thatcher and Reagan now it's a new kind of war being raged inside the brains of courageous people.they are the true heroes and although criticized for ruthless means Friedrich Hayek's comment 'independence of mind and strength of character are rarely found among those who cannot be confident that they will make their way by their own effort' says a lot.
Sir Thomas Jefferson said 'one man with courage is the majority'.In the epilogue of heroes, Johnson writes courage is the noble virtue but i think having it to point of madness is the noblest of all. (it doesn't mean i'm very courageous but i couldn't hold out my fascination for them).