Listen: Admiral James Stavridis The Voyage of Character
"We're honored to have our guest today. US Navy Admiral James Stavridis he's the former Supreme Allied Command under obviously US Navy Admiral is currently operating executive at the Carlisle Group. Admiral Stavridis thank you so much for being with us what a pleasure to be in Texas with you and our Co host today is once again the Colonel Matt Amazon who's Director of the Military Service Initiative here at the Bush Center Matt thanks for doing this again Andrew thanks for being here Admiral thank you for bringing the cool weather Dallas yeah one hundred degrees pretty much the got here now it's beautiful exactly end last night I was greeted with the fire works for the biggest lightning storms have seen which delayed my flight for almost five hours so never let it be said that I didn't fight my way through thunder in lightning to get to the Bush Center. Well we can't thank you enough we know you're busy and we we're thrilled to have you here so we wanted to start with something a little and we heard that you are a lover of Fountain pens and old maps is that is that true it is and I think it's interesting too speculate on why those two interests emerge it's going to be the next question okay fine so a one is I loved right I've written now nine books my new book sailing true North comes out next week and I am also someone who loves reading and anything that touches Writers is is important so yeah I have four hundred fountain pens believe it or not wow yeah it's it's a gentle madness and some of them are a little on the pricey side but some of them I find in flea markets antiquarian stores I can restore pens nice kind of hobby and when I pick up a fountain pen and I think that it's from the nineteen twenty s or nineteen thirties and I think of all the writers who have had l. debt pen and what they wrote and I kind of ruminate on all that so yes I love fountain pens I think maps are probably more obvious because of spending so much my life at sea and if if you really look at a map of the world of course seventy percent is water and I spent nine a half years on the deep ocean if you add it all up day for day out of sight of land so for me maps in that to quote Tennyson that untravelled world whose margin fades forever forever when you move has always intrigued me so I have maps the earliest I have in my collection is from the very early fifteen hundreds it's a map of Marco Polo's travels Oh wow and I also have maps and charts for your listeners the difference between a map and a chart is map is land chart is the see I have both maps and charts and I have many of the short what's that I use to navigate on over my years at sea from the Persian Gulf from the Mediterranean from the Caribbean With a pencil line sketchy on them and I also have a lot of maps from Afghanistan from my time as supreme allied commander in NATO every time I would go there the staff would prepare a very detailed map of where we were going and I would mark that up as we went around I have a map of the of Libya from the Libyan campaign in two thousand eleven showing many of the strikes we conducted so it's an interesting collection might pens in my maps I'll conclude however by saying that your research missed that being I collect the most man and it's books I have five thousand books which much to my beautiful wife Laura's uttered may who's sitting here with us indeed a military family where you move every two to three years so you are unpacking packing and boxing and shelving five five thousand books I got some work to do there Sir I'd love to hear your thoughts on when you say maps and charts and you were provided maps Afghanistan and things like that but sometimes the the difference between what a map in front of you displays in the actual ground truth an example being I think in in Jordan they call the northeastern portion that border Winston's hiccup when he was drawing the border so your observations over time of how maps can be represent unitive of ground truth or otherwise specifically in Afghanistan as well I think generally it is otherwise a map is so sterile in the end it can't can vader you events on the ground and I'll give you a very practical example these days I do a lot of talks where I speak about variety of international subjects and when I talk about his Ukraine and I'll start by showing a map of Ukraine and you know it's a kind of an interesting country it's on the Black Sea of course there's this dangling chunk of it hangs down like a like a pouch of rice that is Crimea and you can look at that and think man okay it's a little peninsula that juts into the Black Sea you cannot imagine the war's over two millennia the fighting over Crimea the negotiation of the treaty there you mentioned Winston Churchill a moment ago the end of the Second World War effectively conducted there in the palace it's it can't convey anything so what I will do for an audience is I'll show a map of Ukraine and Crimea and I'll say here's Ukraine it was invaded by Russia Crimea was annexed by Russia and I'll say but let me show you what Ukraine looks like today click and the next slide is a quad of combat it's destroyed buildings its artillery piece is it's it's four brutal photographs and I'll say to the audience that's what Crimea looks like that's what Ukraine looks like it's a war fifteen thousand people Villeda died there so to your point leaders statesmen diplomats military officers must refrain from allowing the sterility of a map and the simple act of gliding your pencil across it to think that you've solved the problem because you had I've not so admiral I want to start by talking about your book which Time magazine recently named a must read for October sailing true north ten admirals and the voyage of character I meant when I when I sat down to read it I wasn't expecting to have a book that I was going to personally be able to you take the lessons from and apply them to my career I thought it'd be learning about learning some history and learning about the the voyage of the fares and this is actually thing that I can apply to in my daily life did you know that was going to be the end result when you sat down to write the book I certainly hoped it would and the guide post in my mind was an ancient book plutarch's lives which is written by Roman about leading figures in Roman society and he hoped that by doing that he would illuminate lessons of character which readers could apply to their own lives I think at minimum level of entry it is a book of history you meet these ten interesting historical admirals going back two thousand years each one is a chapter but as you know having having read the book the power of it is seen how they confronted the inner challenges so you know we are awash in books of leadership leadership is the influence we exert over others character uh is how we lead ourselves that inner voyage which I would argue as vastly more difficult than the simple act motivating groups people in the idea of the book is to have some case studies that readers can say you know I face that kind of challenge in how did that seafaring admiral respond to it and then draw some lessons and they're both good and bad lessons in the"