Inspector Gamache’s Recipe for Boldness

Dear Reader – After a stimulating working vacation in Australia I’m bursting with new content. To make up for my silence these past few weeks I will publish on Mondays as well as my usual Thursdays for the next little while. Feel free to delete. You can always find the posts on my website. Thanks Al

It takes a mystery to solve a mystery. In the latter case, the mystery is boldness. To be precise why do so many people desire to act boldly and so few do?

Chief Inspector Gamache is the central character of Louise Penny’s best selling Armand Gamache series. Her latest installment, “Glass Houses” is now the most popular book in North America. She is pushing the boundaries of the mystery genre into other literature including social innovation.

Glass Houses contains riveting and thoughtful passages about acting boldly in a complex environment. Québec is faced with an opioid crisis that has resisted everything that has been thrown at it. Sound familiar? What Gamache does isn’t. Gamache has been made Québec’s top cop to do something about the crisis. He takes the job knowing that the war on drugs is lost and that law enforcement can either give up or change. Not slight change but bold and radical change. Here, gleaned from the pages of Glass Houses, is Gamache’s recipe to do exactly that.

  1. Recognize when the times call for boldness. Hope and history don’t always rhyme. But when they do something other than making the existing situation more efficient or less desperate is called for.
  2. Reject the solutions that have been tried and that people expect you to repeat. Ignore them no matter how necessary they seem.
  3. Surround yourself with talented, confident people whose respect for you won’t prevent them from challenging you.
  4. Reach out to people you don’t like or respect.
  5. Planning will only get you started. A compass is useful. A map isn’t.
  6. Singlemindedness is necessary. Perhaps to the point of ruthless discipline.
  7. Be patient, this will take what seems an unbearably long time to you and certainly to others.
  8. Expect allegations of incompetence, naivete and betrayal.
  9. Bend some rules and accept the punishment and reprisals that will follow.
  10. Spend down your credibility, goodwill and honours. What good is a reputation that rests on its laurels?

Acting boldly is counter-intuitive, uncomfortable, risky and thankless. Particularly when you are in the middle of it. Perhaps that’s why it’s oft-spoken and seldom seen. However, if a policeman can do it. So can you.

I recommend Glass Houses for mystery fans and changemakers alike.


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