Monday, November 02, 2009

Marcus Aurelius the VC

I'm starting David Watson's new The Question of Morale: managing happiness and unhappiness in University Life, principally just out of curiosity but it might give me some ideas about managing my own unhappinesses (and happinesses too...) I'm just flipping through for now and will report any big findings, but I did notice one of the 'digressions' that he scatters through the book (p.137-8). Thinking about senior management in universities, he wonders:
..perhaps the field might benefit from a Marcus Aurelius-Alain de Botton style volume aimed at the VC's holiday bag. (138)

Well, perhaps. Marcus might be a bit hard going, I suspect, but then it's pretty clear that Marcus is being mined just for the odd snappy aphorism. At p. 137 Watson writes:
... for senior managers, one of the most celebrated Meditations rings with particular force: 'treat with respect the power you have to form an opinion.'

I don't have a copy of Marcus to hand so can't track this down but it ought to have a special Stoic tinge about the power to generate opinions about matters of value or choiceworthiness, not just a general statement about power and leadership. Still, there are worse things to be plastered on a motivational poster above a VC's desk.

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