I started a blog months ago to discuss the software business, but haven't really done a good job maintaining it. There are several drafts saved out there that haven't been posted, so I thought I might post them here. This is one of those posts.
My favorite play is Shakespeare's Henry V. One of the main reasons it's my favorite play is the inspiring example set and maintained by King Harry as he leads his band to victory against impossible odds.
While I find the battle scene at the end of Kenneth Branagh's 1989 movie version compelling, the king's speeches during the bleakest of circumstances make the plot, in my humble opinion.
I post the following quote by the Chorus from the Prologue of Act IV, as the English camp at Agincourt, outnumbered and preparing to battle the French the following day:
The poor condemned English,
Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires
Sit patiently and inly ruminate
The morning's danger, and their gesture sad
Investing lank-lean; cheeks and war-worn coats
Presenteth them unto the gazing moon
So many horrid ghosts. O now, who will behold
The royal captain of this ruin'd band
Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent,
Let him cry 'Praise and glory on his head!'
For forth he goes and visits all his host.
Bids them good morrow with a modest smile
And calls them brothers, friends and countrymen.
Upon his royal face there is no note
How dread an army hath enrounded him;
Nor doth he dedicate one jot of colour
Unto the weary and all-watched night,
But freshly looks and over-bears attaint
With cheerful semblance and sweet majesty;
That every wretch, pining and pale before,
Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks:
A largess universal like the sun
His liberal eye doth give to every one,
Thawing cold fear, that mean and gentle all,
Behold, as may unworthiness define,
A little touch of Harry in the night.
I don't pretend to understand all Shakespeare is conveying in this passage, but I get these parts:
- Things are bad.
- Things look like they're going to get much worse.
- Many of us have had mornings where we sat patiently by a watchful monitor, inly ruminating like a sacrifice.
But then the coolest thing happens - the king makes his rounds during the middle of the night. He offers the most basic of encouragement to the troops: he speaks to them as if nothing is wrong - referring to them as "brothers, friends, and countrymen."
Sometimes effective leadership comes down to showing up, ignoring the bad stuff, and acting normally.