Landing 01

On very rare occasions, themes from a few books come together – forming one single coherent thought. The thought forms slowly as the mind tries different combinations of words and ideas.  The closer the thought to forming, the more the mind will race and wrestle with it. Then, in what feels like a flurry– for the briefest of moments – the thought lives.

In that moment the mind sighs, rests, and is content. This is a landing.

And then it is gone.

This is the first of what I will call a Landing Post. It is a summary of themes pulled from a few different books into a lesson or an idea.


I am not a good writer. Or at least that is what I have been told or made to believe. I am a scientist and engineer by training. This means I am to hate writing and love math. Math and science are certainly noble justifications for my poor writing. At nearly every stage of my adult life, I have been told me that I am a poor writer. “Don’t worry,” they tell me – this is totally okay given the rigor of science and math.

That is, it was okay – until I decided I wanted to write a book. No. I needed to write a book.

The last three books reviewed helped me chart a path to the realization that maybe I am not as bad a writer as I had been telling myself for decades.  Here’s how it all went down…

“The War of Art”

Read: December 2018

Everyone is afraid to create. Everyone is afraid to try something new. Everyone is afraid of judgement. Everyone has fear.

And everyone has Work to do.

And in response to that fear, we create an incredible weave of distractions to keep us from doing what we know – deep down – we need to do. Our life’s work.

I am not saying this kind of writing is my life’s work. But writing anything at all is lightyears away from what everyone has told me my work should be. Thank you Steven Pressfield for helping me use my fear as a guide – and point me away from a life hiding to a life of trying.  

“The Coaching Habit”

Read: September 2018

Unlike writing, I have been told since I could speak, walk, and point a knife-hand that I was a leader. I led in high school in sports, and work, extracurricular activities, and of course, my siblings. Leadership drove me to join the military.  Leadership then, became my living. Multiple deployments, hundreds of soldiers, and countless missions reinforced and refined my leadership methods.  Leading was me. I nailed it.

Until I didn’t.

Leaving the military forced me into a situation where my results oriented, single-person decision-making leadership (so many hyphens!) style didn’t work. I was efficient at planning and executing missions. I was a professional at “leading-by-driving.”

Learning how to use listening as a tool to help people find their own solutions meant I too was building deeper trust and finally seeing people at their best – that is – when they learn and grow.  “Leading-by-driving” became “leading-by-guiding” as people chose on their own, the right spot rather than me just putting them there.  And WOW – so much better!

Thank you Michael Bungay Stanier for opening my mind to 360 degree leading. Mostly guiding, pushing when I must, and listening always.  

“Originals”

Read: October 2016

Read again: July 2019

What is courage?

You’d think I would have a pretty clear answer for this with the whole “military, war, deployment” thing. I thought I did.  But I actually only knew OF courage. People who were courageous. Actions that were valorous. Courage as a trait observed – but not known or felt.

Until I was afraid.

And a little lost.

Courage

Thank you Adam Grant for giving me the courage to be myself.

Turns out I am just human. Afraid of failure, sharply attuned to judgment, and terrified of criticism.

I also have Work to do. I decided to stop hearing fear and start listening openly. With that choice, I took the first step toward doing my Work.

This is courage.

Cheers to the long book!

Books slow me down, make me think, and stick with me longer than just about any other form of knowledge delivery. Books take a long time to read – and it is in this time that I process and reflect on the message of the book.

The book can be a leadership book, a business book, a sci-fi, or a romance. Each one delivers a message. Each author takes the time to nurture the message. In the time required to read the book, its core message takes root and sticks.

Books are not quick hit memes, social media posts, blog hits (the irony is not lost on me here), or some other short dopamine know-how kick. Books are for those on the long road for lasting gains.

So – clearly, this blog is going to talk about books. Books I like(“Ready Player One”). Books that have shaped me (“The Power of One”) and have stuck with me (“First Break All The Rules”). Some have fundamentally changed the way I think (“Thinking Fast, and Slow”). Some of put me on a new path or down a new knowledge quest (“Obstacle is the Way”). Some have simply given me the mental space to breath and process in a hectic life (“Expeditionary Force: Columbus Day”). All books slow me down, make me think, and make me better.

So cheers to the long book. The one that keeps you going for nights on end (“Ender’s Game”). The one that calls you back for a re-read (“The War of Art”). The one that makes you weep (“Where the Red Fern Grows” – 6th grade). And may we all write our own books, of our own lives, in one long beautiful story until THE END.