November 7th, 2016
The Heart of Road Map to Power
The Heart of Road Map toPower
When my father first approached me to write a book on power, I was reluctant. Of course, there was the issue of never taking on an endeavor of this magnitude. But, the real cause of my hesitation was the belief that I didn’t really have much to offer on the subject. I still don’t.
My father, on the other hand?
Here was a guy who was refugee as a young boy, who lived in some of the largest cities in the world while visiting every habitual continent, who climbed to the top of his profession, who bears witness to the competitive underbelly of Green Bay Packers and Notre Dame Football, who founded a non-profit to aid children suffering from trauma across the world, and who had developed the academic chops to back it all up.
Now here was someone qualified to talk about “Power.”
And so, as conversations continued about the nature of book, my role became more defined. I would help my Dad tell his story in a manner that he found himself incapable of doing.
Don’t get me wrong. As an author of five books and numerous journal articles, my father is a fine writer. A fact even more pronounced when one considers that English is not his primary language. I imagine trying to compose any semi-complex piece of writing utilizing my five years of French and cringe at the thought. Describing Jacque’s trip to the library probably doesn’t make for riveting literature.
No, the issue is that a large part of my father’s core being is an ingrained sense of humility. It is this quality that has endeared him to people across the world while at the same time making him a lousy self-promoter.
This counter quality in a self-obsessed culture has poised an interesting dynamic in the creation of this book. Separated from my father by over 600 miles, most of the construction of Road Map to Power has happened over e-mail, phone, and any moment we could spare while he and my mother enjoyed the company of their first priority, their granddaughter.
The process was relatively the same for each chapter: my father would write a rough draft summarizing the themes he wished to convey and the research to back it up. I would take this skeleton and provide the flesh, making it more narrative in feel with the hopes of engaging our intended audience. When a chapter was completed, I passed it first to my wife for a grammatical makeover (she’s an English Teacher used to sloppy writing) and then to my father for general comments and overall approval to proceed. His responses were almost always more in line with proud Dad instead of literary critic.
My father’s only concerns involved stories I had included from his life that I believed provided an interesting backdrop to the points discussed. Their inclusion, however, more often than not challenged his modesty and he would lobby for their removal.
On this matter, I stood firm.
I expressed over and over again to my Dad that his life stories were the connective fibers of the chapters and represented the soul of the book. I promised to tell them factually and resist the urge to amend them for the sake of dramatic license or venture into the realm of waxing poetically. I informed him that a good writer (or more accurately, he or she who aspires to be one someday) trusts that the facts of a good story are more compelling than any embellishment.
Having a particularly soft spot for his youngest son, my father eventually relented and allowed the inclusion of more of his life’s history. The conditions were clear – they must fit the context of the book and by no means delve into hero worship.
If you do us the pleasure of reading Road Map to Power, please forgive me if I sometimes failed in this goal. I am, after all, my father’s biggest champion in a long line of admirers.