1) In the chapter “Know Who You Are,” Patrick makes the point that whether you’re attending an elite prep school or seeking to advance in corporate America, you may be forced to traverse multiple worlds and question your allegiances. He wrote that Milton and Harvard were environments in which he had to adapt and “learn the code” but soon discovered that “belonging wasn’t determined by place” but through purpose and values. The “points on his compass”: candor, compassion, generosity of spirit and active listening.
2) After graduating from Harvard, Patrick was selected as a Rockefeller fellow and worked in Sudan as well as trekked through West Africa. In the chapter “Try a New Perspective,” he wrote the experience taught him to “make his way in unfamiliar settings,” forcing him to become resourceful as well as develop relationships with strangers with cultural and language differences. Traveling through large cities and small villages of Togo, Ghana and Mali, he began to reject pre-conceived notions, appreciating the distinct personality, politics and culture of each country. It opened his eyes on a level of poverty that made his “experience in Chicago seem small and insignificant” and gained “a deeper understanding for how broken, impoverished and otherwise challenged surroundings could not defeat resourcefulness and generosity of people.”
3) In the chapter “Overcoming Kryptonite,” he recounted the series of political attacks and intense media scrutiny on the campaign trail and as an occupant of the Massachusetts statehouse. Due to the barrage of nonstop assaults, his wife of more than 25 years, Diane, would refer to reading the local newspapers as “feeling like kryptonite.” To stay focused, the governor learned to not dwell on failure or setbacks, channeling emotions into positive pursuits – a process he calls “climbing the next mountain.” At one point, the barrage of negative press took its emotional toll on his wife and forced her to seek medical treatment. The kryptonite, however, lost its power when they decided not hide her condition and make a public announcement. In fact, they found support among constituents who had their own personal bouts with depression. Patrick said they episode was a lesson for him in the courage to tackle adversity head on.
4) Patrick believes those who seek to make monumental changes in society must embrace idealism. In the chapter, “In Defense of Idealism,” he wrote that having a audacious vision “sustains the human soul. The ability to imagine a better place, a better way of doing things, a better way of being in the world is far more than wishful thinking. It is essential ingredient in human progress.” His idealism – a mission to fix his state’s “broken civic life” – has been essential in driving his campaigns for the statehouse. It has also proven effective for the current occupant of the Oval Office.
Patrick’s simple but commanding tenets—and others found in the book—can help keep you grounded in your pursuit of success, wealth and power. It may very well ensure that those young scholars honored last week—and professionals at various stages of their careers—will not only achieve their grand ambitions but design lives of fulfillment.