Book Review: Decision Points

Decision Points by Former President George Bush should be required reading for anyone in leadership.  I am very impressed with how this book turned out.  I really appreciate President Bush’s open honest approach to sharing how he came to many of the decisions that he made as the 43rd President of the United State of America.  He was elected president shortly before I graduated college in the winter of 2000 and served 2 consecutive terms that ended in January 2009.  Those have obviously been some of the most pivotal years of my life and I count it a privilege to have grown up under his leadership.

I started this book on Sunday afternoon and just finished it this morning…Tuesday morning.  It is not a quick read, nor do you want it to be.  This is one of the weightiest books I have read in quite some time and it is full of nuggets that I know I will be referring back to often.  I am grateful that President Bush regularly referred to his faith in Jesus when talking about getting through both easy and difficult times.  I also appreciate that he took the blame in situations where he felt things should have been done differently.  He was also very quick to give credit to others when things went well, even if the idea was his.

I highlighted a ton in this book and will be going back to many of these statements.  Please note that the statements below are President Bush’s and not mine.  Please do yourself a favor and allow these statements to be an encouragement to go and buy your own copy.  Also…buy a copy or two for some young leaders that you know!

  • The passage of time allows passions to cool, results to clarify, and scholars to compare different approaches.
  • My Scripture readings had clarified the nature of temptation and the reality that the love of earthly pleasures could replace the love of God.
  • When you know you have unconditional love, there is no point in rebellion and no need to fear failure. I was free to follow my instincts, enjoy my life, and love my parents as much as they loved me.
  • If you haven’t doubted, you probably haven’t thought very hard about what you believe.
  • Ultimately, faith is a walk—a journey toward greater understanding. It is not possible to prove God’s existence, but that cannot be the standard for belief. After all, it is equally impossible to prove He doesn’t exist. In the end, whether you believe or don’t believe, your position is based on faith.
  • The people you choose to surround you determine the quality of advice you receive and the way your goals are implemented.
  • Personnel decisions were among my first decisions as president—and my most important.
  • Timeliness is important to make sure an organization does not get sloppy.
  • In the years to come, our nation will face more dilemmas about bioethics, from cloning to genetic engineering. History will judge the character of our country in large part by the way we answer these challenges to human dignity.
  • While my emotions might have been similar to those of most Americans, my duties were not. There would be time later to mourn. There would be an opportunity to seek justice. But first I had to manage the crisis.
  • The first step of any successful crisis response is to project calm.
  • Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance, and love have no end. And the Lord of life holds all who die, and all who mourn.
  • Perceptions are shaped by the clarity of hindsight. In the moment of decision, you don’t have that advantage.
  • I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.
  • The nature of history is that we know the consequences only of the action we took. But inaction would have had consequences, too.
  • You cannot solve a problem until you diagnose it. Accountability would serve as a catalyst for reform.
  • Faith-based programs had the potential to change lives in ways secular ones never could. “Government can hand out money,” I said, “but it cannot put hope in a person’s heart or a sense of purpose in a person’s life.”
  • One of the most interesting aspects of my time in office was seeing how my philosophy was interpreted differently by different audiences.
  • He quoted Sir Edmund Burke, the eighteenth-century British leader: “The only thing needed for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
  • “There has never been a noble cause devoid of sacrifice,” he said in one sermon. “If freedom is worthy of defense only to the point it costs us nothing then we are in desperate need as a nation.”
  • I thought about one of my favorite presidential quotes, from a letter John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” His words are carved into the mantel above the fireplace of the State Dining Room.
  • Instead of covering every issue, I’ve tried to give the reader a sense of the most consequential decisions that reached my desk. As I hope I’ve made clear, I believe I got some of those decisions right, and I got some wrong. But on every one, I did what I believed was in the best interests of our country.
  • Decades from now, I hope people will view me as a president who recognized the central challenge of our time and kept my vow to keep the country safe; who pursued my convictions without wavering but changed course when necessary; who trusted individuals to make choices in their lives; and who used America’s influence to advance freedom. And I hope they will conclude that I upheld the honor and dignity of the office I was so privileged to hold.
One Comment
  1. Hi,thanks very much for sharing! I am a high school student in Hong Kong. I found your blog by searching in GOOGLE the sentence
    “If freedom is worthy of defense only to the point it costs us nothing then we are in desperate need as a nation.” just now. I was reading the book – Decision Point – this afternoon. I like it very much. Since I am not a native English speaker, I can’t understand this sentece fully.
    Could please be so kind to paraphraze/rephrase it for me? Thank you VERY much.

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