“How to Think Like Churchill” by Daniel Smith

Winston Churchil drawing intelligenthq

“In the great drama, he was the greatest of all”

General Charles de Gaulle, writing to Queen Elizabeth about Churchill’s death in 1965

How to Think Like Churchill is an unusual biography about one of the greatest historical figures of the 20th century and of Great Britain of all times. It is fair to say that the world would be very different without the role of Winston Churchill in the Second World War. Perhaps the Nazi regime of Germany would still exist. Luckily for us we will never know.

Winston Churchill is now, a widely regarded politician, particularly  know as a great strategist and pragmatic leader. His life has originated countless books, films, theatre plays and even apps, such as thinklikechurchill, a game and app launched by Touchpress and the publishers Hodder & Stoughton, that was done with the help of London’s former mayor and a great admirer of Churchill, Boris Johnson.

But let’s go back to“How to Think Like Churchill” , that was written by Daniel Smith.

Daniel Smith is a writer who lives in London. He wrote more than 20 books about important personalities like Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. “How to Think Like Churchill” though is a very unique book as it isn’t structured like most biographies. The book doesn’t follow Winston Churchill life in a sequential manner. One could say the book is a mix of a biography and the self-help genre.

Dear reader, should you read this book? From my point of view, your decision depends mainly on two factors. One, if you like to read about historical figures like Winston Churchill, this is a good book to start with even though there are better biographies of Winston Churchill already published.

However, they tend to be lengthier. “How to Think Like Churchill” is a short and highly readable book about Winston Churchill. If you don’t know much about him this a book to read as it covers the basics of his life.
Second, this book might please you, if you want to know how the man thought and acted and perhaps apply it to your life. Ok, some readers might say that Winston Churchill isn’t exactly the right role model for contemporary times and that his background isn’t properly mainstream. As a matter of fact, Churchill was born in one of the most privileged families in Great Britain at the time, which is far from the situation of most readers.

“How to Think Like Churchill” by Daniel Smith

But in my opinion, we don’t need to have similar background to learn from someone else. Second, not everything was roses in his life. He had a very slow start in life and many teachers (his father included) “sincerely doubted that he would ever amount to much”.

According to Daniel, the success of Winston Churchill was due to several factors sometimes contradictory: ambition, persistence, optimism, and pragmatism guided by two strong purposes. In a nutshell, Winston Churchill had two very big purposes: to advance the interests of Great Britain and the Empire and to defend Western civilization. From my point of view, it is no surprise that two peaks of his political career were in the First and Second World War.

Dear reader, do you have a purpose in life like Winston Churchill had? If the answer is no, probably you should find one or two like him. Money, prestige and other mundane objectives are ok. However, in a big marathon like life it is very convenient to have a purpose (something related with something outside usI to give “fuel” for a long run.

The ambition of Winston Churchill was enormous. His own father was near to be prime-minister of Great-Britain. He took great risks for himself and for others (he sent thousands and thousands of soldiers to their death) but he had huge doses of pragmatism. For example, he was against the independence of India and the vote of women but when he notice that the winds of history were stronger than his personal stance on these issues, he stopped fighting then. He was a great learder in many ways.

Other things we can learn from Winston Churchill are optimism and persistence. He had faced many defeats in his personal and professional life and he still go on pursuing his goals. We see him as a great politician and we tend to forget that he lost many elections. One great example is the first general elections in Great-Britain after the Second World War. He lost them but was able to win, some years after.

One area where persistence is essential is education (perhaps is more exact to call it self-education or self-improvement). Churchill never went to university and his education wasn’t the best as a teenager. In his own words, and later in life, he “had to pick up a few things as I went along”.

Winston Churchill knew, like the Spanish like to say, that the path is made by walking. “Pathmaker, there is not path, the path is made by walking”, says Antonio Machado in his famous poem “Caminante”. One could say Churchill followed the advice of the poem. He constantly adjusted his path and learned stuff he needed with the results of his efforts.

How to Think Like Churchill is an interesting, inspiring and possibly useful book. Perhaps a good choice to be inspired before the reader goes to sleep for several nights.