Some Achieve Greatness
Lessons on leadership from Shakespeare and one of his greatest admirers
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
For the last twenty years or more the cry on everybody’s lips has been “Leadership!” Around the globe people have been yelling about it, demanding it, begging for it. From the farcical spectacle of short-lived Australian prime ministers shoving each other through the revolving door to scandalous failures of governance in Australia’s financial institutions. From the moral abyss in church leadership, to the mess of Brexit and the chaotic unpredictability of the Trump administration, stable, reliable, sensible leadership has been in short supply.
The media often resorts to the word ‘Shakespearean’ to explain our dramatic times. And indeed, we can learn a lot from Shakespeare about leadership – good and bad. The world’s greatest analyst of human behaviour and motivation; a man well acquainted with crises of leadership in tumultuous times; a man whose dry wit and bottomless empathy enabled him to encapsulate countless valuable life-lessons and do it with wit, empathy and a complete lack of sentimentality. As someone who has spent a good deal of the last seventy-something years studying, performing and directing Shakespeare’s plays, John Bell has absorbed quite a few valuable lessons in life and leadership from the bard, and then put these lessons to good use running two successful theatre companies.
Some Achieve Greatness contains invaluable lessons on leadership, drawn from John Bell’s extensive relationship with Shakespeare and his own experience as a cultural leader, illustrated with an irreverent and contemporary set of cartoons by Cathy Wilcox.