On first glance you may be wondering why I would be reviewing a Science Fiction book on a making money website. The answer is this: this book made me take a new look at leadership like nothing else before.
I’ve read a ton of books on leadership and success, both biographies and manuals; however, this little 357 page paperback brings out elements of leadership strategy that I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else.
No Spoiler Here
I am not going to write a chapter by chapter analysis of Ender’s Game for you; however, I am going to take about a few of his tactics and examples. If you haven’t read the book, please stop where the heading says: Spoiler.
The basic premise for the book is that Aliens have attacked the earth and the F.I. is preparing for another attack. The world is united in finding a leader that will be able to lead their forces when the battle arrives.
Ender is a child genius who is put through this training. As the course of the book goes on, it becomes more and more clear that he may be the leader they are looking for. Testing of the children is done by making them compete in war games with each other. Of course, these games are designed to challenge the kids and make them the commanders that they are expected to be.
Will I like the book?
If you’re going to stop reading this post here then here’s my suggestion: go out to a book store and get a copy of the book (if you want, please contact Amzaon through my affiliate program.) This is a great read for people who want to get a completely new way of reading about strategy.
If you absolutely do not like science fiction; then I may suggest you reading a good biography instead.
Spoiler – read on here for the examples
The lessons from each scenario do not come from the actions that Ender takes, rather, they are presented through his thoughts as to “why” he has taken the actions in the first place.
Getting the message across
As the smallest and brightest child in a school, Ender was the victim of constant bullying. After having his ‘monitor’ removed – a device in all children that allows adults to monitor their behaviour – he was soon surrounded by a gang of bullies.
When the opportunity presented itself, Ender took a desperate blow and kicked Stilson (the bully) hard in the chest. Stilson falls to the ground and Ender has these thoughts:
For a moment, the others backed away and Stilson lay motionless. They were all wondering if he was dead. Ender, however, was trying to figure out a way to forestall vengeance. To keep them from taking him in a pack tomorrow. I have to win this now, and for all time, or I’ll fight it every day and it will get worse and worse.
Ender then proceeds to kick Stilson until there is no fight left in him. Of course, the rest of the pack do not consider fighting with him again.
This example is very early in the book and it really shows you who Ender is. He continues to think 10 steps ahead and uses each event to achieve more than one result.
When Ender is finally made commander of his own group he uses everything he has learned to create a new strategy.
Rather than going with the customary 4 Toons of 10 people and attacking with text-book formations, Ender creates his team with 5 Toons of 8 – each Toon having their own strategy and fighting capabilites. Of course, early battles are easy wins because each new group reacts slowly to the new empowerment of the team.
Doesn’t this happen too often in business? The “leader” tries to retain all decision making so is slow to react to changing market conditions? If I learned anything here, it’s to empower your employees.
The Real Enemy
Throughout Ender’s training it becomes clear that while he is continually competing against fellow students, the games are being rigged by the instructors to make Ender lose. The real enemies were the instructors not the students.
This made me think about my own life a lot. Have I identified the true challenges that are holding me back? Sometimes it’s a colleague or a boss but in many cases it was my own internal roadblock. Consider that when a challenge presents itself. What is the real outcome you want to see and what do you need to do to reach it? AKA – think outside the box!
While I obviously can’t cover in any real detail the events in this book, I would highly recommend that you read it.
The book describes numerous situations in which Ender learned from those around him and used different strategies to defeat his opponents. I found this to be a real motivator – not specifically in destorying your opponents – but in how you strategically move through your life and create success.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this book but after reading it in the last 2 days, I noticed that I began to use some of Ender’s ‘lessons’ in my business.
I learned that setting your goals high and managing your plan to reach them is important. It’s also necessary to have the right people in the right positions with the ability to make their own decisions for their teams.
If anyone reads this book, please let me know if you think I am reading too much into this book. I guess I figure that any lessons you can learn from anything you do will only help you further your goals.
If you’ve considered naming your Third child Ender, consider my Full Feed RSS.