Community & Government

A Pathway to Politics

George W. Bush

Lesson time 10:10 min

Gain a big-picture view of President Bush’s career. Discover the lessons he learned on his journey to becoming commander in chief.

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Topics include: This lesson offers an big-picture view of all the elements and stages of his life that led to his years in office. In this chapter find out the lessons he learned on his journey toward becoming commander in chief.


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I didn't ever say, I'm gonna plot a political career by winning the student council race and then go to high school and win those student council races and then become a state rep. I never had that in mind. I was a little rambunctious when I was a youth, but nothing wrong with that. It's part of the learning. Now, looking back, I can see how each step prepared me for my time in office. I learned the language of finance at Harvard Business School. Running a small business showed me how essential a strong work ethic and empathy are, and my experience with the Rangers taught me the importance of connecting with people and being comfortable in the public eye. Each experience offered different lessons. [MUSIC PLAYING] My direction in my life was wandering. I never had a set plan. I was unmarried. I was-- and I didn't have a lot of possessions. And I had gotten into Harvard Business School, and I wasn't certain I wanted to go. And my dad found out I got in, and he-- we were having dinner. He said, are you gonna go to Harvard Business School? I said, I don't know. He said, you ought to think about it because it'll open new horizons for you. And that's what convinced me I should go, and it did. It gave me a toolbox. I learned a lot about investment, and finance, and stuff, but my heart really wasn't there. My heart was in being an entrepreneur, and, in short, the Harvard Business School gave me the confidence to take risk. But in terms of practical matters, you can only find that beyond academia. You've got to get out in the real world, and interact with people, and set goals, and try to achieve those goals. [MUSIC PLAYING] So I started a small business in Midland, Texas, town I was raised in, town Laura was born in right in the heart of the Permian Basin. And there was an oil boom going on. It gave me a better understanding of business cycles because I also saw bust. The business environment is not always a stable, predictable environment. It was a good lesson in preparing for the worst. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst. And that was a great experience because we did well, and then, we didn't do so well based upon circumstances. And you had to deal with it, and you had to work it through. And you had to keep people on the team. You had to make sure they had a job, and it gave me a better understanding of small businesses. The second thing is I came away with a great appreciation for small business owners. I believe that made me a more empathetic leader because I had had those experiences. And when I'd meet with small business people, oftentimes, they knew exactly what they were talking about when they talked about their frustrations and struggles. I'm the big backer of less regulation and less taxes on small businesses because I appreciate so very much the contribution they make to job creation in our country, and it held me in good stead. [MUSIC PLAYING] Th...

About the Instructor

Step inside the Oval Office with the newest instructor in our White House series, President George W. Bush. With insight from former First Lady Laura Bush, the former commander in chief opens up about the tough calls and life lessons that shaped his career. Develop and own a leadership style that’s true to you and learn to lead by connecting personally with everyone in the room.

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