I’m on a roll finding good books to read. I really enjoyed all three of these. While they may not seem like they have a lot in common, they really do. Mattis discusses leadership and Davis writes about parenthood, both are really about Dweck’s mindset. I recommend all three.
Call Sign Chaos, Jim Mattis & Bing West
I have a lot of regrets but I try not to focus on them. Every action has led me to where I am today with my beautiful wife and three amazing boys. However, there is one regret I think about more than the others – not serving my country.
In hanging out with two of my best buds, Rick and Mark, both of whom are veterans, I realize there are very few people with whom I share the same mindset. The same goes for when I do GORUCK events with special forces operators or in this case, read about Former Secretary or Defense Marine General Jim Mattis. I think I would have thrived in that environment. They think how I think. I also would have rather done more this great nation. I should have put my own life on the line for these freedoms we all take for granted and which at this time are just trampled on. I guess I will settle for trying to elect good people and getting laws passed that will strengthen America.
I loved this book mostly because I love the mindset of Mattis. Just read some of his most famous quotes:
“I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.”
‘Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
“You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”
And what has become a personal motto of mine:
“If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you.”
This book is marketed as a leadership book and there are a lot of lessons to be learned from it. However, this is much more of a history lesson on the Middle East conflicts under Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump. If you’re looking for a leadership book I recommend going with those of Jocko Willink. If you want to read about one badass American and his mindset toward life, pick this one up.
Raising Men, Eric Davis
It’s a cosmic joke that Elizabeth Donehue and I had three boys. I constantly joke that I don’t know how to do manly things. I had to call Phil Bailey over to fix a doorknob. Jordan Bryngelson and Brandon Lutes came over late night to save Superman from the toilet. Jason Fry and Bradford Beavers have come over more times than I can count. Hell, my father-in-law fixed our couch just this past weekend.
I don’t hunt, although I have stabbed a few hogs with Matthew Nichols. I don’t fish. Beyond changing a tire or jumpstarting the battery, I cannot fix a car. I don’t do a lot of things I need to teach my boys. I guess that’s the result of my father dipping out early and me being a punk teenage kid that didn’t take advantage of the opportunity I had with my step-father.
With so much I cannot teach my boys for now I’m focusing on what I can teach them. I can teach them love and empathy and the importance of faith. I can teach them how to defend themselves and others. I can teach them how to be healthy mentally and physically. I can teach them the importance of thinking big and pushing themselves to their limits. I can teach them how to embrace the suck and get comfortable being uncomfortable. I love when my boys see me cross a finish line.
I can also learn. I’m learning chess because Harlowe is into it. I’m seriously considering taking classes in hand to hand combat. I’m on a constant path of self improvement and I want to teach the boys everything I learn.
That’s what this book is about. The author, a former Navy SEAL, is teaching his boys all the important life lessons he learned in training and in combat. Many of them I have already mentioned above – discipline, confidence, determination, mental toughness and health. Why and how to stand up to bullies. Why and how to run away from a fight. When and how to fight. The importance of training. Putting family first.
This book teaches all the same lessons you learn from most books written by SEALs. But how Jocko Willink takes the next step and applies those lessons to leadership and business, Eric Davis applies those lessons to fatherhood.
This was a quick pager turner. I really enjoyed it and recommend to all fathers, and even mothers, of boys.
Mindset, Carol S. Dweck
I’m weak. I can get strong.
I’m slow. I can get fast.
I’m smart. I can get smarter.
We aren’t a match. Marriages take work.
I’m the best and there’s no reason to practice. I can always get better.
The former of each is an example of the fixed mindset. The latter are examples of the growth mindset. You want the growth mindset.
Three years ago I had a big goal. I wanted to be an IRONMAN. Just one problem… I didn’t know how to swim. My first triathlon outing was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. It took me 21 minutes to swim 600 yards. I had to swim to the shore multiple times and walk in waist high water. I swam to a kayaker who nearly took me out of the water. My buddy Old Flame Dave Moore swam by and asked “dude, are you okay?” No, Old Flame, I was not. Hearing my friends and family cheer me on had the opposite effect. They made me want to cry. I couldn’t believe people, including my children, were watching me fail so spectacularly. As I write this I cringe just thinking about it.
I didn’t stop after that day. I didn’t have a fixed mindset telling me “just stop, this isn’t for you.” I kept at it and got better and better. Now I’m an IRONMAN who has completed numerous triathlons and even swam 2.5 miles in the Charleston harbor. And I’m not finished.
I’m proud of my accomplishments but I’m not telling you this to say “hey, look how awesome I am.” I want you to see how much I absolutely sucked, got over my fear of both drowning and embarrassment, and went out and accomplished my goal. You can do that, and much more, if you develop a growth mindset in everything you do – business, fitness, marriage, parenting, friendship… everything!
I told you this before. Once someone told me on Facebook “Wesley, you think you are so much better than everyone else.” That’s only partially true. My goal isn’t to be better than you. My goal is to always be better than I was yesterday. But yes, I do believe I am better than some people because I believe people with a growth mindset are better than people with a fixed mindset. That’s because people with a growth mindset are actively trying to be better.
The parts of the book about self improvement are fantastic, but even better are the parts about parenting. Dr Dweck goes into amazing detail about how parents can help their children develop a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. Thus, I recommend this book to all parents.
This book is a game changer and should be read by everyone. Stop being satisfied with who you are. GROW! Never stop growing! Go reach the potential God has given you.