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10 of the Greatest Leadership Mistakes in History

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When we look at the past, it becomes obvious that the march of history is often more of a stumble. How you live, work, and love today are as much the result of mistakes as they are the result of some brilliant plans or an inspired leader's guidance. Take a good look around and then read the headlines. Really, did you think the world got this way on purpose?

Perhaps in what seem to be dark and foreboding times it can be somewhat reassuring to look at the grievous mistakes commanders and leaders have made in the past. No matter how incompetent the president or prime minister is today he or she is unlikely to match the poor judgment of the emperor in Samarkand who chose to personally insult Genghis Khan. No matter how we think of the U.S. Congress, it cannot cause as much trouble as did the Assemblies of the French Revolution, or the Long Parliament for Charles I. With modern communications and an active press, no leader can today be as out of touch as were Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The world has progressed, technology has grown, and the human race has reached the moon, despite all of the errors and stupidities of the past. That is a thought that should give us all hope for the future as we look at the many almost unexplainable and often tragic mistakes made by the great leaders throughout history.

Bill Fawcett is the author of Trust Me, I Know What I'm Doing: 100 More Mistakes That Lost Elections, Ended Empires, and Made the World What It Is Today.

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