lessons from the west wing

I recently did a marathon NetFlix viewing of all of The West Wing episodes.  When the show was on the air, I loved it, and I was sad when it was cancelled.  Rewatching episodes, especially from the early Aaron Sorkin years, is very rewarding.

Lessons I learned from The West Wing:
  • Surround yourself with the best people.  Early on in the Bartlet candidacy, Leo and team go out and bring the best people on board.  They largely remain loyal to him, even when Bartlet reveals he has MS.
  • Take a chance on people.  Bartlet makes Charlie his bodyman, and Charlie later gets promoted to assistant Chief of Staff.  Charlie didn't have a stellar education, but he was hard working, bright, and excelled when given the opportunity.
  • Forgive.  People make mistakes.  Especially in a fast paced organization, mistakes will be made.  Bartlet held people accountable, but forgave and let people move on. Except for Toby, who made a Career Limiting Move by revealing classified information.
  • Treat people like family.  Mrs. Landingham was effectively Bartet's mother.  But the President treated all of the members of his staff like family.  And they gave him loyalty in return. 
  • Do what you think is the right thing, even if later it turns out not to be.  Everyone on the West Wing made decisions based on what they thought was the right thing at the time they made the decision.  The important thing was, they were decisive, and took action, based on available information and beliefs.  If that later turned out to be wrong, they fixed it later.  For example, Toby disclosed national security secrets about the secret military Space Shuttle, to save the astronauts.  Bartlet repeatedly made military decisions that he thought were the right decisions to make based on available information, even if later that turned out not to be right.  Launch and iterate.
  • Work hard, be kind, and you can do anything. This was demonstrated by so many of the characters. 

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