Traits, Obituaries, and Life’s Purpose

by Phil Walter

Suddenly I am of sufficient age and experience that young people occasionally contact me in search of mentorship. Based upon my military, intelligence community, and interagency experience, they often think I can provide them a road map to the career of their dreams.

These young people ask, “How do I get a job at Department W?” “How do I get a job at Agency X?” “I am thinking of doing Y or Z, what should I do?” I typically respond by asking the young person to take a moment of pause, then I share a routine I call Traits and Obituaries.

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A Marine participates in a field training exercise during Iron Sword 16, a training exercise, in Rukla Training Area, Lithuania, Nov. 29, 2016. The annual multinational exercise involves 11 NATO allies training to increase combined infantry capabilities and forge relationships. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Kirstin Merrimarahajara.

We Can Do Better at Teaching Army Doctrine

Chris Budihas

As historian Hew Strachan states in The Direction of War, “Operational thinking finds its intellectual focus in doctrine.” Doctrine drives how leaders think and fight. But when the Army publishes new doctrine, as an institution we owe it to ourselves to do a better job informing, then educating, the Total Army force.

doctrine

Soldiers maneuver in an M1A1 Abrams tank as an AH-64 Apache helicopter provides aerial security during exercise Decisive Action Rotation at Fort Irwin, Calif., Sept. 6, 2016. The soldiers are assigned to the 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Army photo by Pfc. Michael Crews.

Great question…what DID I learn in command?

by Gregg Sanders

The question shouldn’t have been a surprise. “So, you just came from command. What did you learn?” Here was my chance to impart all the wisdom I had accumulated over the previous 18 years, culminating in command of a Navy Super Hornet squadron. “So, what did you learn?…”, the inquisitor repeated. “Um…” I sputtered. I had no clue what to say.

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A VFA-147 Argonaut jet in “Star Wars Canyon,” Panamint Valley, CA.

7 Gifts for a Military Leader

Military leaders are hard to buy gifts for. We’re busy, we’ve already got a lot of gear, and we don’t talk about what we need until we really need it. If you’re in a pinch to buy for someone in the military (or anyone else, for that matter), check out these easy gifts. I own each and swear by them.

StrengthsFinder 2.0

No other book in recent memory has had a more immediate and valuable impact on me as a leader. It reframed how I view my own approach to leadership and gave me a valuable framework to teach others. The research-backed concept is simple: discover your strengths, lead through your strengths, and build your team around your strengths. Very powerful!

StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Gallup and Tom Rath

Moleskine Classic Notebook

Spend a day in the military and you’ll see that we’ve got a notebook rivalry happening. It’s basically down to the GSA-issued green notebook and the Moleskine. The Moleskine is a revitalization of the traveling notebooks used by creatives like Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway. If you want something beyond what the supply shop can issue, yet just as tough, check out the line of Moleskine notebooks.

Moleskine Classic Ruled Soft Cover Notebook, Large 5 x 8.25-Inches

A Field-Ready Pen

And you might need a field-ready pen to go with that Moleskine. The Lamy Swift Rollerball is matte-black and made of metal, so it’s low-vis and tough. It’s also got a smooth-writing, retractable pen for one-handed operation. I’ve had mine for years and just lost it, so I’ll be buying a new one soon.

LAMY Swift Rollerball Pen, Matte Black

The Challenge of Command

I read this book 20 years ago and still reference it today. The Challenge of Command is exceptional for two reasons. First, it’s a leadership book that’s filled with historical examples (always appreciated). Second, it’s a reading guide for military study, citing dozens and dozens of other works to add to the military library. Trust me, it’ll be valuable for years to come.

Challenge of Command: Reading for Military Excellence by Roger H. Nye

Ballistic Phone Case

Whether you’re going to the field, working in the motor pool, or trapped in meetings all day, this is the phone case to get. It kept my iPhone pristine over the last 2 years and is slimmer than LifeProof and OtterBox cases. And there’s a belt clip if you need a rapidly-deployable phone case.

Ballistic Heavy Duty Protection [Tough Jacket Maxx Series]

Alite Designs Camping Chair

The lightest, most compact and comfortable chair out there. I’ve used it camping, lounging around a fire with friends, and in the field. Throw it in your ruck and deploy it at chow time or in between sessions at the range. You could be a hard Ranger and sit on the cold ground, or a smart Ranger and get the Alite Designs Monarch Chair.

Tissot T-Touch Expert

Digital compass. Altimeter. Thermometer. Barometer. Classic styling and a touchscreen face. The Tissot T-Touch Expert is the perfect alternative to the pricey Breitling and Tag models. And it’s made of titanium, so it’s incredibly lightweight (15.84 oz) and indestructible. This is a great gift if you’re looking for a functional watch for both office and field environments that doesn’t look too flashy with the uniform.

Tissot Men’s T0134204720200 T-Touch Expert Watch

There you go! What other gifts do you give to service members? Leave a comment below.

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Speaking When Angry (Habit Series #7)

The best leaders don’t use anger as a leadership tool. Anger is not a mandatory component of leadership because there are countless examples of successful leaders who never get angry. Yet, we can think of many leaders whose anger has compromised their effectiveness. The question is: what does anger get you? And then at what cost?

angry

Marine Corps Cpl. Benjamin Peagler yells out an order to his team while participating in a platoon assault drill as a part of Exercise Cold Response 16 on range U-3 in Frigard, Norway, Feb. 23, 2016. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Rebecca Floto.

The Chilling Story Behind the Mayflower

It’s not often that we find good Thanksgiving-related reading, but Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick is definitely worth checking out.

In vivid detail, Philbrick describes the tumultuous voyage of the Mayflower, the near catastrophe of the first winter in Plymouth, and the struggle for survival that was the first few years in the New World. Philbrick takes you off the boat and into the water as our famously “harmonious” Pilgrims scavenged off the land, stole from the native Americans, and sparked years of bloody war. It’s not the story you read in school.

mayflowerFor me, the most incredible realization was that the birth of our Nation might never had happened if not for a storm that blew the Mayflower off course and prevented them from reaching the British colonies down the coast.

Then, that William Bradford insisted on a pledge with the Dutch voyagers aboard that none would disembark unless they committed to survive together, not as separate national groups. This agreement, known as The Mayflower Compact, not only enabled their collective survival, but was quite literally the seed of democracy in America.

It’s an incredible story and well worth your time. Check it out!

 

The Best Military Gift You’ll Ever Give

You’ve got a wall full of departure gifts from units past. Framed unit colors…a few coins, badges, and patches…a metal placard with your name and a pleasant inscription. They’re nice, professional…but they’re predictable. It’s time to break the mold…

military gift

Check out the Roman Rudis from Purpleheart Armory.

The Rudis brings to life the 2,500 year old tradition of presenting retiring gladiators of the Roman Empire with a wooden replica of their primary weapon, the gladius. (In the movie Gladiator, Proximo reveals to Maximus the he too was a gladiator, displaying his rudis as the symbol of his freedom.)

military giftPurpleheart Armory expertly crafts this Rudis from domestic hardwood like Oak, Maple, and Ash, then engraves up to 5 lines of customized inscription. Unit logos, service seals, rank, branch insignia, and other tailored images give it a personal but professional feel, and unmatched uniqueness. And of course, the Rudis is 100% made in the USA.

Present the Rudis to celebrate departures, arrivals, milestones, accomplishments, or to reward unit competition. I like giving the Rudis to retiring friends and colleagues to symbolize their “freedom” from military life.

Get 5% Off Your Rudis

Purpleheart Armory has a special offer for The Military Leader community. Get a 5% discount when you use the coupon code:  TheMilitaryLeader. This is the coolest military gift I’ve ever seen and gets a “Wow!” every time it’s presented. If you don’t need one now, be sure to bookmark this post for a future order.

Get Your 5% Discount (promo code: TheMilitaryLeader)

As The Military Leader community grows, so does the cost associated with managing the website. Purpleheart Armory has graciously offered this promotion as part of an affiliate partnership. This means that a portion of the proceeds of orders placed through this post will go directly to funding The Military Leader website. You certainly don’t have to click through this post when you want to buy a Rudis, but I would sincerely appreciate it if you did. And as always, referrals matter. So please share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and wherever else you can! Thank you!

The Bee, the Brain, & the Bully

Leadership is as diverse as the individuals who exercise it. We influence through distinct talents, shaped by experiences, personality traits, core values, and an endless list of other factors. Nonetheless, when we look back at the leaders we’ve encountered, it’s easy to identify behavior trends that point to a set of defining leadership styles. The aggressive risk taker. The deliberate planner. The encouraging coach. The intense micromanager.

Each profession has its own set of styles that generally lead to success. The military is no different. Here are three types of military leaders you’ll find that, for better or worse, produce results.

bully

A Marine points in the direction of the next objective on a security patrol during an Integrated Training Exercise aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., July 19, 2015. Link to photo.