New Adventure, New Opportunity

Don’t want to read all of this, go check out the video!

February 12, 2019

Greetings! I’m not exactly sure what I’m hoping to accomplish by starting this new project. I guess that I’m hoping to impose some structure and discipline around habits of self-reflection, writing and accountability. So far, 2019 has been a period of reorganizing and re-energizing. Near the end of 2018, I started working on developing some new habits focused on journaling, planning, and goal setting. I’ve done well with the new habits, but not as well with progress toward established goals.

2 of my current goals are specifically related to writing. The 1st is to regularly commit to sitting down and engaging in the writing process. This is a broad goal, aimed at getting back into the habit and turning out any content, ranging from articles, to book reviews, to original essays, and maybe even creative or fictional pieces. The 2nd goal is more specific; to finally finish the long overdue and necessary revisions to my 2008 book “Rising Through The Ranks, Leadership Tools and Techniques for Law Enforcement,” and start working on the follow-up, focused on mid-level management and command.

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This project is my attempt to “prime the pump” and start making progress toward those 2 goals. I have no idea how this is going to progress. Let me tell you what I’ve got in mind so far. I’m envisioning this as a bi-weekly blog or video recording. The content will vary from entry to entry, but typical topics will probably include my current professional reading, any other reading I might be engaged in, leadership lessons or projects I’m working on, other learning opportunities, excerpts or samples of any writing I may have worked on since the previous episode, and any fun fitness stuff that I might have engaged in. Hopefully, by placing myself in the position of having to have new content every other week, I can impose some self-discipline and increase accountability on my writing goals. On top of that, this blog will fulfill another element of my journaling habit and serve as documentation of this journey of self-reflection. I invite you to come along on this journey with me. Hopefully, we’ll learn something.

Pro-Reading

While I was assigned as a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Leadership Fellow in 2003, I started a program of daily professional reading. There was no outline or requirement for what I read. It was simply a daily commitment to a short period of reading some professional development text. I stuck to that program through the end of my assignment in 2004 and for quite some time after I returned home. I fell out of the habit many years ago.

In December of 2017, based on a variety of changes that occurred in my professional life, I decided to get back to my professional reading process. When I did, I modified it slightly to reflect lessons that learned in the meantime and changes in my life. For the past year plus, I have engaged in pro-reading on most weekday mornings that I am not traveling (and a few when I am). I do my pro-reading with my first cup of coffee, either as soon as I wake up or after my morning exercise. Generally, my pro-reading consists of 2 books. The first is a professional development text with a focus on some aspect of leadership, law enforcement, or personal development. In the past year, I’ve read 15 books on a wide variety of topics, ranging from leadership, to execution, to transcendental meditation, to history. I won’t name all the titles here…that’s potential future content. The second book is the Holy Bible. After I read my professional text for 15-20 mins, I spend the rest of the ½ hour reading a passage from the Gospel. Some mornings, my professional reading also includes a 3rd book. This depends on what my recent pro-reading may have prompted in my curiosity or memory. Most recently, this consisted of The 5 Great Dialogues, by Plato.

Currently my morning pro-reading has 3 books in the rotation. The 1st is “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” by John Maxwell (Maxwell, J. (2007). The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.) I’m a big fan of John Maxwell. I’ve read and listened to a wide selection of his books and have used them as texts and source material for several leadership development programs. This one is striking a cord. I’m through Chapter 15: The Law of Victory. I like all of the laws so far and will dive into them in more depth at a future time, but I really like the Law of Victory: “Victorious leaders possess an unwillingness to accept defeat. The alternative to winning is totally unacceptable to them.” (Maxwell, 2007. p. 180) For my Gospel reading this morning I started the Book of Ezekiel. I only got a short way into it. I had an appointment. The 3rd book in today’s rotation is Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. This came off the shelf recently because of a science fiction book I was reading recently. In this book, the hero is fond of citing poetry. In one passage, he quotes Song of Myself. I vaguely recognized the passage from my literature studies, so I dusted off my copy and started at the beginning.

Other Learning Opportunities

For the past several months, I have been listening to the Jocko Podcast on a regular basis. This program is hosted by Lt. Commander Jocko Willink. LtCdr Willink and his teammate and partner, LtCdr Leif Babin are the authors of Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership. The are also the founders and principal officers in Echelon Front, their leadership development and consulting company. EF offers single and multi-day seminars called the Roll Call and the Muster. I haven’t been able to arrange to attend one of these, although I’d really like to. A couple of weeks ago, LtCdr Willink announced that EF was rolling out a new, online training option: EF Online. This online offering is based on the content from their in-person seminars. They discuss the lessons they learned in the Battle of Ramadi, translate them to basic leadership principles, and apply them to business and other leadership settings. When I heard about EF Online, I decided to treat myself and registered for an individual account. So far, I’ve completed the 5 basic modules. The modules are interactive and loaded with video and computer-generated content. I’ve really enjoyed the modules. Most of the material is taken directly from Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership, so it was more of a reinforcement than new material. However, the interactive portions do require applying the lessons to scenarios, so that was new and a stretch. I like the program.

Leadership Projects

The next month will be busy with outside leadership projects. Later this week, I’ll be kicking off the 2nd iteration of a local Leadership Development Academy that I founded for City employees last year. Last year’s pilot project was based on a program that I’ve been associated with at the Gainesville Police Department for the past several years. The pilot had nearly a dozen participants from an assortment of City departments and was very successful. This year’s version aims to build off that success. In addition to City employees, the new class will include representatives of the School District as well. I’m looking forward to working with this group.

In a few more weeks, I’ll be headed back to Gainesville to begin working with my 4th cohort of GPD supervisors on their Leadership Development Academy. This has been an amazing and rewarding process. I’ve had the opportunity to work with each of the previous 3 cohorts for 2 entire days during their class. Historically, I’m with them for 1 of their 1st days, then again for their last full day. I’ll meet the new group in March. GPD has been through a rough patch. This is going to be an interesting, but difficult trip. I’m really hoping that I can be useful.

Fun Fitness Activities

I needed to mix up my fitness routine after the holidays. I’m loving my renewed commitment to Jiu Jitsu and am having a blast with it. However, after the 1st of the year, I needed a new challenge. The weather here in western Massachusetts wasn’t lending itself to fun, low-impact outdoor activities like snowshoeing or hiking. I’d been doing a little research on the sport of “rucking,” so I decided to try that. Invested in a new, lean pack and a little weight. I’ve only had the opportunity to try it once so far, but it was a full-body blast that got my heartrate and respiration up. I like it. I’ll definitely be doing more of that.

February 14, 2019

My editor-in-chief, lead content officer, and beautiful bride, the lovely Christina proof-read this for me and had some creative criticism:

1. The length. This is too long for a blog post. Noted. This introduction required a lot of background and setup. I’ll keep future blogs on the short side.
2. I should focus some attention on some of the “gear” that I incorporate in my workouts and training. I like that….more focus on gear and toys.
3. This blog makes me seem like an ascetic (my word, not hers) monk, who never has any fun. Absolutely not true. Include something personal. OK, I can do that. So, the last section of each post will be fun stuff that I’ve done in the previous couple of weeks. That starts here…..

Fun!

Trying to recall the last couple of weeks is challenging, but here goes. A couple of weeks ago, we decided that since the weather wouldn’t cooperate (frigid cold), it would be a good time to catch a movie. We went and saw The Green Book at our local, downtown theater, The Beacon Cinema. Last Friday, we got to go see the opening of the new exhibit at The Berkshire Museum: Leonardo DaVinci: Machines in Motion. This was an awesome evening. Great exhibit. Great time with a lot of great people. Unfortunately, it was also a bittersweet farewell to a beloved Museum staffer, who is moving on for new opportunities. Last night, we had a beautiful night out for our celebration of Valentine’s Day. Great times at a couple of new local establishments. So much fun!

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So, until next time, Be Safe, Keep the Faith, and Do Good Work. 1*