(Auto)biographies: A Window Into Greatness

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Isaac Newton

I’ve just finished reading “Play Nice But Win” by Michael Dell, a thrilling tale of boldness, resilience and reinvention. I found myself reflecting on why I love reading about other people’s lives. 

A biography is the closest we get to peering into the lives of the people who shape our world. They give us a glimpse into their early memories, formative experiences, and decision-making processes. If history is a record of the activities of mankind, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and diaries are perhaps the best explanation we have of the historical record.

Walter Isaacson once said, “When you write biographies, whether it’s about Ben Franklin or Einstein, you discover something amazing: They are human.” Society often reinforces the “Great Man Theory of Leadership”; that leaders are born, not made. I’ve found that biographies help to humanize the people we most admire by showing us that even the greatest people face fears, insecurities, and self-doubt.

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