Professor James March

Passion and Discipline:
Don Quixote's Lessons for Leadership

A film by James March & Steven Schecter

Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University
Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2003, 4:15 pm-6:15 pm

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Picasso, Don Quixote

Preface: Cervantes' Don Quixote is one of the world's great classics which I've not yet read. Still vivid in my memory is Richard Kiley's Don Quixote in an off-Broadway play Man of La Mancha (1966), and his song "The Impossible Dream" is one of my favorites. When I met my first spiritual mentor Anthony Damiani (1968) and discussed literature with him, he asked me: "Have you read Don Quixote?" When I replied, "No." He said, "Boy! Do you have a treat coming!" I've read tons of books on philosophy and poetry, and scientific papers on protein structures, but somehow I still have not tasted this great dessert— Cervantes' Don Quixote. More recently, on reading The Poet and the Diplomat (The correspondence of Dag Hammarskjöld and Alexis Leger) edited by Marie-Noëlle Little (2001), I came across this gem (p. 23): "Dag Hammarskjöld was indeed a 'great humanist' with a strong interest in literature... When a journalist once asked him which book he would most like to have if he were stranded on a desert island, he answered: "Cervantes' Don Quixote, and preferably in an old French edition." The editor also footnoted: "This was also Albert Einstein's favorite book." So when I saw a bright yellow flyer "Film & Discussion" with Picasso's drawing Don Quixote announcing the film premiere "Passion and Discipline: Don Quixote's Lesson for Leadership— A film by James March and Steven Schecter", my mind was eager to fly.

Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2003, 4:15 pm, Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University:
Here I am in the lobby of Cubberley Auditorium, and they're serving free hot popcorn— two machines going full blast, handing out buckets of buttered popcorns to students who've come for the show. I got myself a bucket and found a good seat in the center aisle and was ready for the treat— not just the popcorn, but James March's wisdom poetry inside the program:

Quixote reminds us
That if we trust only when
Trust is warranted, love only
When love is returned, learn
Only when learing is valuable,
We abandon an essential feature of our humanness.

Deborah J. Stipek, Dean of Stanford's School of Education welcomed the audience. When she first approached Prof. March to do a film some years back, March replied "Why should I write something to be embarrassed." But this joint project of Stanford's Business School and School of Education went smoothly and turned out well. She noted Prof. March's many accomplishments in the Business School, and that in addition to this film, he also writes poetry. Professor James March then spoke: "This is an event that shouldn't have happened until I'm dead. If there's any merit in this film, it belongs to Steven Schecter. In this film we ask the question— What's the relationship between public & private life, between cleverness & conscience (?), imagination & intelligence. Look at great literature— Shakespeare's Othello, Cervantes' Don Quixote, Tolstoy's War and Peace— and try to learn lessons from them. I imposed two rules when accepting this assignment: (1) I have nothing to do with financial matters. (2) If the film is unsuccessful, they have to pay the debts. and a third— (3) Don't ask who is the intended audience. This is a rare institution. Stanford University sustains our imagination. This film is a valentine for Stanford.

Here are my notes sketched in the dark. The film opens with luscious colorful grape leaves in the sunny vineyards of Spain. Then it splices suddenly into black & white videos of President LBJ's speech on abolishing poverty. LBJ's speech somehow gets blurred and some video of Vietnam War flashed by. Similar shots appeared showing Defense Secretary Robert McNamara fidgeting his answers related to the Vietnam War and Bill Gates's speech about his vision for Microsoft and testifying before Congress on Microsoft's monopoly lawsuit by the Justice Department. The dichotomy of these comparative videos and sound bites were striking. Our heads of state and heads of corporations have visions of greatness, whether they are the Great Society or the great software company, but get derailed by hubris of power. Then, there was a scene of Dennis Green, head coach of Minnesota Vikings, inspiring his football team in the NFL. This film is about who you are, about Don Quixote. Quixote was a man who had neither success or glory, but he knows who he is. This is an allegory between idealism and madness. Then the camera pans across a giant tapestry of Don Quixote in the room of the French Ministry. Here the leaders of the French government ponder issues of international importance under the watchful eyes of Don Quixote— the Man from La Mancha. Don Quixote teaches us that life is to be challenged. Quixote doesn't accept reality. He produces a world of beauty and meaning.
[Notes added to the film are denoted in brackets as well as weblinks.]

Video scene: Energetic Flamenco dancers in a Spanish inn
Think of a Flamenco dancer, passionate and yet full of precise discipline.
[thus the film's title: "Passion & Discipline"].

Don Quixote addresses two questions:
(1) Why fight when success is not assumed?
(2) Why be virtuous when virtue is not rewarded?
      How do we use vision and imagination?
      How do we sustain commitment?
(3) Possibility of joy— deep emotion of the soul

Video scenes:
Joan of Arc from Otto Preminger's 1957 film Saint Joan
Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" Speech
Japanese animation film Hayao Miyazaki's
My Neighbor Totoro (1993)
Seeds grow to gigantic trees.
A giant cat flies like a hot-air balloon
taking the kids for a joy-ride space spin.
Lesson: Believe— and your dreams will come true!

Robert Koski, CEO, Sun Hydraulics:
"Your dream is all you can become."
[Koski at 1997 ASME Meeting]

John Gardner, Founder of Common Cause:
"No decision is logical. All dreams are embraced."

Don Quixote refuses to accept the constraints of reality.
If you see no angels, it's because you harbor none in you.
Carlos Fuentes says: "Don Quixote's vision of his love is the greatest in literature."

Cory Booker, City Councilman, Newark, New Jersey.
Cory was Student Body President at Stanford University. He was a Rhodes Scholar
at Oxford and earned a law degree at Yale. As Newark's Central Ward Councilman,
Cory introduced innovative ideas that brought safety and stability to his community.
In the summer of 1999, killings were rampant in a drug-infested area in Newark.
The residents in the apartments were scared to come out. The police stayed away.
Cory staged a hunger strike in a tent between two apartment complex. Others joined him
and the police finally showed up in the area. The drug dealers fled. This courageous
action endeared Cory to his constituents. When Prof. March asked Cory what led him to do
something extraordinary, Cory thanked his parents for inspiring him early on to challenge
the status quo and fight against all kinds of discrimination. Cory lost running for Newark's
mayor recently. [With his hard work ethics, I see him as a rising star in American politics.]

Video: Don Quixote defends his Lady's honor as the most beautiful woman
and is sorely beaten by adversaries who scoff at his madness.
Lesson: Dulcinea's beauty is not one of evidence but one of attitude.

Video clip: Bobby Kennedy [quoting George Bernard Shaw]:
“Some men see things as they are, and say 'Why?'
I dream of things that never were and say, 'Why not?'”

Commitment: That's where meaning comes from.
What justifies commitment, persistence?
Don Quixote: "I know who I am. Knight I am, and Knight I'll die."

Video clips:
Spanish Coup [February 23, 1981]: Gunshots in the parliament. Colonel Tejeros
led 300 Pro-Franco troops into a joint session of the Spanish parliament and held
the entire government at gunpoint as part of a planned coup. Everyone ducked
flat-face on the ground. But one elderly statesman (name?) stood erect and refused
to be intimidated by the gun-totting rebels. What courage! Soon, King Juan Carlos
appeared on TV to dissipate the coup and appealed for democratic rule.

What led Cory Booker of Newark to stage his hunger strike
against the drug dealers to clean up his community?
Jerry L. Beasley, President of Concord College, West Virginia (since 1985)
has increased enrollment, modernized campus buildings, build the largest
endowment of any West Virginia public college— all through joyful innovation.

Interview: Anne Kreiner (?), Denmark CEO: "I talk loud and laugh a lot.
It breaks up tensions in the boardroom, and we get things done.
Lesson: Joy: sense of humor, laugh at your failures.

Video clip: Betty Blue (1986 film)
This French film directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix is a romantic comedy about the relationship
between a writer (Jean-Hughes Anglade) and his unstable lover (Beatrice Dalle). He's unsure of
himself, while she storms into the publisher's office to get a contract for his book. She lives
at the edge of insanity. In one scene she throws all his belongings out of the window.
Lessons: Joy of engagement & joy in identity.

Rod Beckström, CEO of C-ATS Software, started his company while
in the 2nd year of Stanford Business School [MBA Class of 1987]
In 1996 his company brought in $22 million in revenue, but during
the downturn, he spent $15 million keeping his company afloat.
His company's stock went down from $16.50 to $3.25
Rod: "I've been a rationalist for 25 years—
finally I meditated for help and an angel came to me."
Sold his hi-tech company and got rid of his stress.
"I'm now an environmentalist, changed my life-style"
Lessons: There's joy in beauty.
Innovation deviates from conventional identity.

(Film ended at 5:42 pm)

[Poem: "Broken Egos, Broken Eggs" by Rod Beckström August 31, 2001]
[Beckström's Brainticklers: Beyond Y2K : Questions for the New Millennium and the Year 3000]

Panel Discussion: (Q = Question from Audience, JM = Jim March,
SS = Steven Schecter, BK = Bob Koski, JB = Jerry Beasley)

  Q: Could you say something about the collaboration in making this film?
SS: My concern was the story-telling. Jim had his line of argument to proceed precisely.
      We went back and forth between these emphasis.
  Q: Who is the intended audience? And how will you distribute the film?
JM: Steve and me. How do you make life meaningful?
       It's for students in junior high, high school, college, graduate school,
       and business people. We want a broad educational distribution.
       You may see it on local PBS station or cable-TV.
  Q: What's the difference between a leader and a lunatic?
        Is it that a lunatic will ignore consequences?
BK: Leaders have followers, but lunatics have followers too.
        Joan of Arc was a genius instead of a heretic.
JM: You can't tell the difference until after the fact.
  Q: How did you get involved in Don Quixote?
JM: I first read Don Quixote in a Spanish class.
      It took possession of me gradually as I taught business students.
      There are important lessons in great literature such as Stendhal's
      Red and Black, Tolstoy's War & Peace and Anna Karena.
  Q: What made you do a film?
JM: I resisted doing a film. Steve has ideas ow to make things visual.
JB: I'm not a leader. I'm a disciple of Jim March. As President of Concord College
      [West Virginia] I'm a living experience of Jim's ideas.
BK: There are lots of interesting studies on the left & right side of the brain.
        Is reality fantasy? There's no such thing as reality. Our fantasy creates reality.
JM: Bob is the first post-modern hydraulic engineer!
  Q: I'm struck by the agency of inner vision. Could you elaborate on this?
JM: This film has to be placed in a context. We have to push, to be more willful.
      If a society is all Quixote, then we have to teach a different method. But as it is,
      this society needs more Quixote vision.
JB: Bob's metaphor of the sandbox is useful. Find ways to empower us to dream.
      I don't think our dreams are as important as others whom we serve.
  Q: Isn't leadership too individualistic instead of the group?
JM: You're quite right that we emphasized individuals instead of relationships and teamwork.
      Quixote's identity is not just finding himself. There's a social identity—
      Be a good knight errant, a good citizen, a good policeman. Be a man!
      Quixote will investigate the nature of man, his social identity.
BK: Schools can't train passion, purpose. If you have a big ego, you'll fall eventually.
  Q: ? (not audible or not attentive to write it down)
JM: Bob says you're never sure. War and Peace is a story of Pierre's searching for who he is,
      the struggle it involves. One needs to throw oneself in a situation "technology of foolishness"
  Q: ? (not audible or not attentive to write it down)
JM: Why do we allow a drunk to do things when we don't allow it when he is sober?
        Part of the search to find who we are— and in the process
        we find something else.
SS: I've been taking pictures since I was nine, and I'm still exploring.

My Film Review of Passion and Discipline:
The title says it all— Passion without discipline will not bring wisdom. Discipline
without passion will not give us joy. Students who flock to gurus to become their disciples,
but ignore discipline will not experience enlightenment. Likewise those who are adept at
austeries and discipline but lack passion in their work or studies will have little
compassion when they attain spiritual illumination. Don Quixote's lesson for leadership
is akin to Lao Tzu's advice for the ruler: "The reason the river is the lord of ten thousand
mountain streams is because it knows how to remain beneath them." Thus the ruler places
himself not at the mountaintop but below in the marketplace so as to serve his people better.
I enjoyed this film immensely, especially the video clips of Don Quixote filmed in Spain,
with lessons from the novel on leadership and living the good life. The interviews were
illuminating— the real life cases showed that Quixotic actions solved complex problems.
When I see Prof. March strolling leisurely through the grape vineyards of Spain telling
the story of Don Quixote with great passion and showing its applicability in life, I say to
myself "Here's a Knowledgeable Knight indeed!" And when he plucks a grape from the vines
to taste, I feel that he's earned his trophy in making this film and sharing his wisdom with us.

Conversations During Reception:
Now the audience spills out into the lobby where lots of drinks and food are served.
I went to a group surrounding Bob Koski, CEO of Sun Hydraulics. He turns to me and asks
my name. I enjoyed the interview of him in the film and ask him more about his company. In the film, I was impressed by the aesthetic approach of his engineers in designing a
screw-in hydraulic cartridge valves gadget that is more expensive that anything on the market.
But Koski's idea is that clients will buy it because it's beautiful and functional too.
I liked his metaphor of the sandbox, to let his engineers work as if they're having fun—
that's the sure way of creativity, to let ideas flow freely. When I ask him who are his
competitors, he tells me "I hire the smartest engineers in the world, so I don't worry
about competition." When I mention about the Stephen Wolfram lecture "A New Kind of Science" which I heard two days earlier, Koski says he just read that 1000-page book. We then exchanged stories about creative genius and cosmic consciousness— I told him about Dante and Balzac, while he recounted stories about Brahms and Rachmaninoff. He said Brahms was only known for his Lullaby before blossoming into a great composer. I thought he was inspired living with Robert and Clara Schumann, and was very much in love with Clara. Koski said that Rachmaninoff was having writer's block and went to a hypnotist for consultation. After several months of hypnosis, he wrote his 2nd Piano Concerto that played successfully in London. I thanked him for these stories and we exchanged email addresses. Prof. March came by to bring his friend Koski and his wife home. I told Jim March how much I enjoyed his film, and ask for the titles of his poetry books so I could find them in the Stanford Library. "They don't have my poems," he assures me, "they have all my business and management books, but I keep my poetry private." However, when I tell him of my interest in poetry, he tells me his email address and says he'll send me some of his poems. What a day!— seeing a Don Quixote film, learning lessons on life, enjoying good food, and meeting the filmmaker and a CEO who are leaders of learning.

[Notes: Following up Bob Koski's stories about Brahms and Rachmaninoff,
I went to the Stanford Music Library, and checked out seven books on Brahms
and two on Rachmaninoff to learn more about them. Here are my preliminary notes
on Brahms and Rachmaninoff to share with my readers.]


Web Links to James March
Professor James G. March
  (Web page from Stanford's Graduate School of Business)
Professor James G. March
  (Web page from Stanford's School of Education)
Selective bibliography - Principales publications
  (Books published from 1958 to 1999)
March honored for organizational research by government of Finland
  (Stanford Report, Feb. 9, 2000)
Three professors elected to American Philosophical Society
  (Stanford Report, May 23, 2001)
Utilities and Identities: The Search for an Interpretation of Action
  (The 1998-99 Marschak Colloquium at UCLA)
Integrating Teaching and Research
  (Course Description: Socrates and Me)

Web Links to Steven Schecter
Steven Schecter: Filmmaker: Documentary Style
  (Home, Experience, Equipment, Projects, Résumé, Contact)
Film Review: 'Windhorse': Struggles of Tibetans Under China
  (New York Times, April 30, 1999)
Film Review: 'Windhorse' Sees Tibet in all its Complexity
  (San Francisco Chronicle, February 12, 1999, Page C8)

Web Links to Don Quixote
Don Quixote stamp Don Quixote de la Mancha
  (Curated by Harry Sieber, Dept. of Hispanic & Italian Studies,
  Johns Hopkins University)
The Don Quixote Portal
  (Book in English & Spanish, Bio of Cervantes)
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  (John Ormsby translation, London, 1885)
Don Quixote: A searchable electronic text
  (Shelton translation, 1612)
A Tribute To Don Quixote De La Mancha
  (Joe Darion Lyrics to Man of LaMancha)
Don Quixote gets authors' votes
  (BBC News, May 7, 2002)
Angelo J. Di Salvo: Spanish Guides to Princes
  and the Political Theories in Don Quijote
  [Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society
  of America 9.2 (1989): 43-60]
Don Quixote Exposition: Dec. 17, 2002-Feb. 15, 2003 in Murcia
  (comics, stamps, book and record covers, plates, posters)
Cervantes & The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha
  (Cervantes Discussion Deck on books & criticism concerning Cervantes)
France to Buy 100 Million Euro Coins from Spain
  (50c coin shows portrait of Cervantes instead of Sower)
Postage Stamps of Cervantes & Don Quixote
  (France, Romania, Spain, Cuba)
Don Quixote Postage Stamps
  (Issues from Spain)
Two Sheetlets from the story of Don Quixote
  (Stamps from Spain issued on September 25, l998)
Don Quixote book illustrated by Walter Crane
  (Bangkok Rare Books by Author-- C)
Don Quixote by Honore Daumier
  (Don Quixote— posters & prints)
Don Quixote by Gustave Doré
  (Gustave Doré Art Images— only one print)
Don Quixote by Gustave Doré
  (Gustave Doré Art Images— 20 art prints)
Cervantes' The History of Don Quixote Illustrated by Gustave Doré
  (Project Gutenberg Edition)
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza Entertained by Basil and Quiteria, 1863
  (Gustave Doré painting at Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)
Four Tapestries in the Don Quixote Series (Getty Museum)
  (Don Quixote Cured of Folly, Sancho's Cowardice,
  Sancho's Entry on Barataria, Sancho's Feast on Barataria)

News Stories about Don Quixote
'Don Quixote': The Errant Knight Rides Again
[By Miguel de Cervantes, Translated by Edith Grossman]
(By CARLOS FUENTES, NY Times, Nov. 2, 2003)
Michael McLean: Dreaming big: Like a Don Quixote, he strives to uplift
(By Doug Robinson, Deseret Morning News, Utah, Nov. 2, 2003)
Tilting at Windmills [Constructing an 8-foot-tall modern adaptation of a windmill
as a backdrop for a marathon 48-hour Don Quixote reading at University of Mobile]
(By George Werneth, Mobile Register, AL, Oct. 27, 2003)
To screen the impossible dream [Johnny Depp to play Sacho Panza]
(By Peter Calder, New Zealand Herald, Oct. 22, 2003)
BALLET: 'DON QUIXOTE': Latin Passion and Drama Meet Academic Precision
(By Anna Kisselgoff, NY Times, Oct. 17, 2003)
Nureyev's "Don Quixote" marks farewell for Boston Ballet's Jennifer Gelfand
(By Theodore Bale, Boston Herald, Oct. 13, 2003)
The 100 greatest novels of all time ["Don Quixote" tops list]
(By Robert McCrum, Guardian, UK, Oct. 12, 2003)
The 100 greatest novels of all time: The list
[Don Quixote, Pilgrim's Progress, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, Tom Jones,
Clarissa, Tristam Shandy, Dangerous Liaisons, Emma, Frankenstein are top ten novels]
(By Robert McCrum, Guardian, UK, Oct. 12, 2003)
Comic Ballet Sees Don Quixote in Pumps
(By Yoon Ja-young, Korea Times, Oct. 9, 2003)

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (5-22-2003)