New Adventure, New Opportunity: Installment 4

March 29, 2019

So, this blog post is being written as I sit in my mentor’s living room in St. Helena’s Island, South Carolina. It has taken me way too long to make this trip, but I managed to tag this detour onto a contract gig and take advantage of the travel that my work allows me. I’m pretty blessed.

March 31, 2019

Another 1st here. I’m editing this content on my phone, while I sit at the gate at Savannah-Hilton Head Airport on my 1st leg of the trip home. This has been an amazing trip, and I’m psyched that I got some writing done while I was traveling. My flight is delayed and while I’m pretty sure I’ll make my connection, if I don’t, I won’t have time to post tonight. Deadline are deadlines, and this blog is due today. So, OneDrive, WordPress, and my cell phone.

Probably no video for this one, because I don’t think I can record in the airports or on the planes.


The Pro-Reading continues with Covey’s, The 3rd Alternative. I am loving this book. Not only am I loving Covey’s approach to seeking an unconventional approach to problems, and looking for the possibility or the solution that may not have been considered otherwise, the lessons of this book are aligning with a lot of other reading and work that I’ve been doing.

Reading The 3rd Alternative, having just completed Goggins’ Can’t Hurt Me, together with another book I was referred to (see below) is really emphasizing some common themes and impacting my thinking. This is what pro-reading is supposed to do for you. This is definitely the most insightful and affirming period of pro-reading that I’ve had since starting this project last year.

Other Reading

In addition to the adventure novels that I covered in the last installment, I was invited to join an online “book club,” or learning opportunity. Some of my training partners from our Jiu-jitsu academy have decided to start this group to be mutually supportive and accountable for ongoing personal development. The 1st book in the group’s selection is Hal Elrod’s, The Miracle Morning (Elrod, Hal. The Miracle Morning. (2012).

I put this on my Kindle for this training trip, and I am really glad that I did. I’m not going to get into a ton of detail about this book right here, because I’m not done with it and I may review it at a future date.

Essentially, The Miracle Morning is a straight-forward and simple formula for using early morning time to set your day up for success and prepare yourself for reaching your maximum potential. The author, Elrod, begins by telling his story and explaining some setbacks that he suffered. After that, he describes his own personal process of enlightenment, and the 6 daily activities that he recommends for highly productive days and continued success.

The book is pretty elementary. Even so, I’ve really gotten a lot out of it. I struggle with being productive 1st thing in the morning, and I think that these 6 steps could be helpful to me. I’m looking forward to implementing them.

Update: I finished it yesterday and started re-reading it last night. I think this might be a game changer for me.

Other Learning Opportunities

This travel trip has been dedicated to working with a new cohort group of the Gainesville (FL) Police Department’s Leadership Development Academy. I flew last Tuesday, taught all day Wednesday, and flew again on Thursday.

This was a fun day, with a great group of dedicated law enforcement professionals. I was honored and privileged to have the opportunity to meet and work with them.

I’m looking forward to getting to know them better, and coming back to work with them again in the fall. I love working with the GPD and their program and team.


I finally posted the book review on Can’t Hurt Me last week. I’m not thrilled with the format, so I’ll have to improve that. However, I am glad that I did decide to write some reviews/summaries. I’ll definitely be doing some more of that.


So, last Friday, I had the opportunity to do something that I really wanted to do. I had made an appointment to go back to one of our Elementary Schools to read Jocko Willink’s Mikey and the Dragons to a group of 3 Kindergarten classes. This was so much fun. This is a great book, with a great message, and they were a great group of kids.

After that, I took a partial day off and went and got some new ink done. I worked with a local artist, who came highly recommended, and convinced him to convert my brother’s 3rd Monkey Eating the Elephant drawing into a chest piece. It came out awesome.

On Sunday, C and I accepted an invitation to go to a 1st Responders’ Appreciation Event that was put on by our local EMS coordinating organization. It was amazing. Tons of donated food, lots of good fellowship, and just a really nice afternoon. I’m glad that we made the time to go.

Tuesday, was my travel day. Today is Friday, and I’m on vacation with my friends/family in South Carolina. I’m counting my blessings today.

Friday and Saturday, Frank and I got a lot of shooting in. Rifles, 1911s and revolvers. Probably a couple of thousand rounds apiece. We had a blast. It was nice to get some non-work related trigger time.

Now, it’s time to go home. I miss my lovely bride, our beasts and our home. Travel is great, but traveling home is the greatest.

Be Safe, Keep the Faith, Do Good Work, 1*

Reader’s Review of “Can’t Hurt Me”

Happy Saturday. This is an off-week post. These probably won’t become routine. A couple of points of introduction.

  1. I struggled a lot with whether or not I should attempt a project like this. I’m interested in providing feedback and opinions on the books that I read, but I really don’t know what the best format for that would be. I started thinking about “book reviews,” but in my mind, the project more resembled a book “summary” or a “book report.”
  2. I am going to continue to do this, but I do not love this format, so future entries will probably be different. I don’t want to give up essential parts of the books. So future entries will probably be much shorted and much less detailed.
  3. However, I wrote this one, so I’m going to share it.
  4. I do recommend this book. The lessons that Chief Goggins learned through his journey are valuable and definitely worth sharing. 

Link to Google Doc

TITLE: Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the OddsIMG_7416
AUTHOR: David Goggins (USN, Ret.)
CITATION: Goggins, D. (2018) Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds. Lioncrest Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-5445-1226-6
LENGTH: 364 pages
COMPLETED: February 24, 2019


“To the unrelenting voice in my head that will never allow me to stop.” David Goggins

David Goggins is a retired U.S. Navy SEAL, who as a SEAL completed U.S. Army Ranger School, and previously served as a U.S. Airforce Tactical Air Controller. After completing his military service, he started another career as a wildland firefighter. In addition to his professional accomplishments, he is an experienced endurance athlete, competing in a variety of ultra-marathons, triathlons, and ultra-triathlons. He is the former Guinness World Record Holder for pull-ups. He is also a prolific public speaker and coach.

Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, is a combination of his autobiography, a description of his training regimen, and the story of how he developed his philosophy for success. Beginning in the Introduction, Goggins explains “That anybody can become a totally different person and achieve what so-called experts [like him] claim is impossible, but it takes a lot of heart, will, and an armored mind.”

I Should Have Been a Statistic
Can’t Hurt Me begins with the story of Chief Goggins’s childhood, growing up in Buffalo, New York. He explains how his family “found Hell in a beautiful neighborhood.” His description of the difficulties he faced as a child: violence, substance abuse, repeated physical and emotional trauma, late nights at his father’s business, family separations and poverty are heartbreaking.

Goggins’ early educational experiences, first in Buffalo, and later in Brazil, Indiana are the story of a child starting with a distinct disadvantage due to academic struggles at the beginning of their school experience. Goggins experience severe social anxiety and developed physiological symptoms to his stress and trauma. In response to his academic difficulties, he developed a survival strategy to help him keep up: he started cheating.

Truth Hurts
In the 4th Grade, Goggins experienced a break. For a period, his life wasn’t defined by violence, trauma or poverty. For the first time, he had hope. The hope was short-lived. By high school, the continued exposure to traumas and the cheating to stay caught up was taking its toll. He had more physical symptoms and had fallen farther behind academically. He struggled to fit in. His attitude carried over onto the basketball court and he struggled to make the team. Outside of school, he began to experience overt acts of racism. In response, he drifted toward black nationalism, reinforcing the stereotypes that were directed toward him. In his own words he was headed for disaster. However, he had one hope left.

David Goggins planned on joining the Air Force. Unfortunately, he couldn’t pass the ASVAB and was failing out of school. In response, Goggins developed his “Accountability Mirror.” This ritual kept him on track. He got to work. “From then on, I brainwashed myself into craving discomfort.” If it was raining, I would go run. Whenever it started snowing, my mind would say, Get your fucking running shoes on. Sometimes I wussed out and had to deal with the Accountability Mirror. But facing that mirror, facing myself, motivated me to fight through uncomfortable experiences, and, as a result, I became tougher. And being tough and resilient helped me meet my goals.”

The Impossible Task

Taking Souls

Armored Mind

It’s Not About A Trophy
Goggins completed BUDS. That Chapter in and of itself is worth reading. That should be the end of this story. However, it’s not. Once he joined the Teams, life in Naval Special Warfare wasn’t difficult enough for him. He needed more.

Chief Goggins was already looking for a challenge. He’d hit on the Badwater 135 Ultra-Marathon through Death Valley as his challenge of choice. Then Operation Red Wings happened. He vowed to run the Badwater 135 in honor of his fallen brothers, to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. What he didn’t know was that you can’t register for Badwater without a successful Ultra portfolio.

In order to qualify for Badwater, he’d have to run a 24-hour, 100-mile race before hand. The race director told him that there was a 24-hour Ultra in San Diego that coming weekend. So Goggins, went and ran it. 100 miles in under 24-hours….with 3 days notice…and no training.

The story of the race deserves to be read, so I won’t detail it here, but you can imagine. Inadequate training, inadequate support, inadequate equipment prep….disaster…but Goggin’s Accountability and Armored Mind wouldn’t let him quit.

The Most Powerful Weapon
The book continues, through Chief Goggins’ growth as an endurance athlete, despite some bad decisions and significant setbacks. He explains how he learned to fill his “Cookie Jar” with memories of his past victories. Through his ongoing preparation for the Badwater, he continued to ask himself, “What am I capable of?” and surprising himself with each new answer. Eventually, he learned to “remove” his mental governor and to exceed his expectations of himself. Eventually, he completed the Badwater.

Talent Not Required
From there, it was long-distance triathlons. He learned the importance of setting “backstops” during all new challenges.

From there, he moved on to specialized recruiting duty. While he traveled to recruit, he continued to train for ultras. Then he started to have health issues, and his world turned upside down.

Uncommon Amongst Uncommon
Chief Goggins continued to seek new ways to challenge himself. During his 1st platoon assignment, he decided that Army Ranger School would be that type of challenge. After Ranger School, he returned to the SEAL Teams, going back to the west coast for his 2nd platoon assignment.

The Empowerment of Failure
Then he decided to set the Guinness Book of World Records record for the most pull-ups. Eventually, he got it. He put that accomplishment in his Cookie Jar.

What If?
When he suffered another medical setback, near the end of his career, Chief Goggins embarked on a regimen of stretching and mobility exercises. Eventually, he stretched himself back to health.

Chief Goggins retired from the Navy in 2015. He continued to compete in ultras, but still that wasn’t enough. So, he became a wildland firefighter. Then he learned the power of conquering self-doubt, by asking “What if?”

Chief Goggins continues to serve, to silence his inner doubts, and to challenge his own limitations. In “Can’t Hurt Me,” he shares the tools and techniques that he uses to do that, in hopes that we can too.

Installment 3: New Adventure, New Opportunity

Video will be available once it uploads.

Well, that didn’t take long. 6 weeks and 3 installments in, and I’ve already come up against trouble with deadlines. I’m not making excuses, here, this is entirely on me. However, the fact is, it is Sunday morning, installment 3 is scheduled to be posted today, and I’ve added no content to this article for 2 weeks. Part of that is because I committed some of my writing time during the last couple of weeks to working on a book review (still to be completed), and part of it is because I spent most of yesterday on a callout to a fatal fire scene, but the only relevant fact is that I didn’t adequately plan, schedule and budget my time to get this done. Lesson learned. More content, more consistently, across the entire reporting period. GOOD!

So, what’s been happening with the program?

My pro-reading during this period has been “The 3rd Alternative”, by Stephen R. Covey (Covey, S. (2011). The 3rd Alternative. New York, NY: Free Press.) This is another one of those books that has been sitting in my office for some time. I started it several years ago, got about 20 pages into it, put it down, got distracted and never got back to it. I’m really sorry that I didn’t stay with it and complete it the 1st time. I’m just getting started, but this book is awesome. Seth Godin described it as “Stephen Covey’s most important book.” img_7463

“The 3rd Alternative” is an exploration of the process of finding synergy. It details a process of moving beyond conflict resolution and consensus building to a position of true creativity. Not looking for the solution that is “acceptable” when 2 parties defend their particular positions or perspectives, but moving beyond what is acceptable to what is totally new, or unimagined, when we both agree to leave our positions and explore a 3rd option.

As I said, I’m just getting started, but I wish I’d read this years ago. Given our current national and world climate, the message of this book truly resonates. As is often the case, when I picked this book up again, it completely aligned with several projects that I’m working on, both professionally and personally. I’ve used material from it in 3 programs that I’ve delivered in the last 2 weeks. More to come as I get deeper into it.

The Book of Ezekiel and Leaves of Grass are still in the pro-reading rotation, rounding out my morning readings.

Other Reading
After “Can’t Hurt Me,” I needed to lighten my “pleasure” reading up a little bit. I haven’t gotten into my recreational reading choices in this project yet. I don’t really have a preferred genre, but when I’m looking to disengage my brain a little bit, I tend toward mysteries, adventure series and fantasy/science-fiction. I’m also one of those people who will re-read a book many times, just because it relaxes me. I do have author’s that I get into and will stick with in spurts. Khan

One of my favorite authors is Clive Cussler. Cussler is the author of several series of books. He, together with several co-authors have created the Dirk Pitt adventures, The NUMA Files, tales of the Oregon, Isaac Bell mysteries, and a couple of other collections. I don’t read all of them, but I am a fan of the 3 NUMA series and the Isaac Bell stories.

This week, as a treat, I downloaded a new Dirk Pitt novel. This one is “The Treasure of Khan.” (Cussler, C. (2006) The Treasure of Khan. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam
Sons.) It’s been my read myself to sleep book for the past several days.

Other Learning Opportunities
One of the opportunities that my work affords me is to serve as the LE rep on the local Race Task Force. This is an amazing group of talented and passionate community advocates, and I’m privileged to be associated with them. While the work is sometimes difficult and often challenging, it’s important. At the TF’s last meeting, at the request of the Chair, I presented a very cursory and simplistic introduction to Law Enforcement Use of Force for the members. While I’m certain that some members didn’t like everything I had to say, and many not have agreed with some of material presented, the important part was that they took it in patiently and respectfully. At the end, several members thanked me for educating them and for my candor. Nobody challenged my expertise and no one felt compelled to attack ME, as the messenger. The TF is just a great example of how people with many different perspectives can come together for candid discussions and do it with tolerance and respect.

I had the opportunity to work with another local PD on a Cultural Awareness and Implicit Bias program. This was the 2nd session of a program that we developed for the entire Department and that had been started in February with the 1st ½ of the PD. It was well received. I’ll be looking for opportunities to expand it.

The Leadership Development Academy had their 2nd session on Friday. This is a great group of working professionals, and I benefit from their enthusiasm and passion. I was surprised by the approach that they took with their Reading Review, and their direct questions challenged me to examine what I’ve learned about myself by developing the program. It was a valuable reflection and I’m grateful to my students for pushing me.

As I stated in the intro, I spent some time working on a separate book review to roll into this project. After giving it some thought, I decided to focus the 1st one on “Can’t Hurt Me.” Unfortunately, it’s not finished yet. Maybe later tonight. Stand by on that one.

There’s been some real mountaintop moments in the last couple of weeks, but there is definitely one stand out decision. After delaying until I missed the opportunity last year, I promised myself that I wouldn’t take any chances of missing out again. So, last week, I made the decision, pulled the pin and committed to taking a trip up to Maine this summer to attend the Origin Jiu-jitsu Immersion Camp. 4 days and 3 nights in the Maine woods, training all day with Jiu-jitsu players from all over the country. I’m super excited about this.

This one is shorter. I’m getting better at this. So, that’s all for now. See you in a couple of weeks. Until then, Be Safe, Keep the Faith, Do Good Work! 1*

Installment 2: New Adventure, New Opportunity

If you’re new here, check out the 1st installment of this blog at  New Adventure, New Opportunity.

Don’t want to read the text. Check out the video version.

March 3, 2019

Well, the 1st week after the introductory installment went live was a wilderness week. Don’t get me wrong, it had some high points, but a lot of the week was spent in valleys. It started with the funeral of a great friend, who was a warrior and an American hero, and it went on from there. I spent a lot of time in meetings and much of that time was not productive. I had a couple of sparring matches with some colleagues that just sucked the energy out of me. Plus, my love was under the weather, so I couldn’t even rely on having her to pick me up. For the most part, Jiu Jitsu was my outlet and salvation….but even that wasn’t without a valley moment. Week 2 was just a work week; kind of a grind. But, enough of this. What’s been going on with the program?


IMG_7437As I said in the first installment, my current professional reading has been focused on “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” by John Maxwell (Maxwell, J. (2007). The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.) I finished it Friday. I think I’m going to do a full review of this book, separate from the bi-weekly blogs, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but I do want to list the laws, as enumerated in the book. I should point out that I read the revised and updated 10th Anniversary edition, so if you’re familiar with the original, there are 2 changes to the laws listed. In this edition, the 21 laws are:


1. The Law of the Lid
2. The Law of Influence
3. The Law of Process
4. The Law of Navigation
5. The Law of Addition
6. The Law of Solid Ground
7. The Law of Respect
8. The Law of Intuition
9. The Law of Magnetism
10. The Law of Connection
11. The Law of the Inner Circle 12. The Law of Empowerment
13. The Law of the Picture
14. The Law of Buy-In
15. The Law of Victory
16. The Law of the Big Mo
17. The Law of Priorities
18. The Law of Sacrifice
19. The Law of Timing
20. The Law of Explosive Growth
21. The Law of Legacy

Again, I’m a Maxwell fan, and I enjoyed this book. I’m glad that I put it in the rotation.

My additional pro-reading materials are still the Book of Ezekiel and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. I’m just plodding away on those.

Other Reading

In addition to my regular pro-reading, I also read “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds,” by Chief David Goggins (USN/Ret.) (Goggins, D. (2018) Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds. Lioncrest Publishing). Chief Goggins is another retired Navy SEAL. His book is a combination biography and description of his personal philosophy and training regimen. I was turned onto this book by an online discussion on a group page dedicated to Extreme Ownership. He has a similar approach to Discipline, but this is a very different book. I’m finished it mid-week, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it.IMG_7416

Chief Goggins overcame some amazing odds and obstacles to achieve an amazing career. He encountered a lot of stumbling blocks along the way. He describes how he steeled his mind and re-directed his anger to find success in adversity. On the other hand, he also describes how his own ego and assumptions often sabotaged his efforts.

As I said, I’m torn about this one. I’ll take a more definitive position if I decide to review it.

Other Learning Opportunities

The 2nd Annual City of Pittsfield Leadership Development Academy is underway. We had a great 1st session with nearly a dozen participants from a variety of Departments. The class session focused on definitions of leadership, common qualities of successful leaders, followership and dynamic subordinacy, and an introduction to the Situational Leadership Model. Participants got their 1st reading assignment in Extreme Ownership and were introduced to their project. This is going to be a fun group.

I also conducted a supervisory roundtable with some of my staff. This is a regular professional development program that I implemented with sergeants, unit supervisors, and senior commanders a couple of years ago. They’re always loaded with useful exchanges, but this one was excellent. Some really good work came out of it.

Friday, I started working with a new client, that was looking for some cultural awareness and implicit bias training. I feel pretty good about it, but we’ll see how the course evaluations come back. They were an awesome group and I’m proud to have worked with them.

After installment 1, I got a lot of positive feedback. Thank you for that. Among the feedback was a suggestion that I provide readers of the blog with a recommended reading list. That’s an awesome idea. I’d like to offer a special shout-out to Jerry from GPD for suggesting it. Fortunately, I keep a recommended reading list for classes that I conduct, so this is an easy ask. I think the easiest way to do this is to make it available as a Google Doc and share the link here. I’ve done that as part of this installment. Thanks Jerry!

Another suggestion that came up in the past week was to create an Instagram page to track and share the books that I’ve completed through my pro-reading process. I thought this was a great idea, and it’s done. You can find it at @vfot-_leaders_r_readers.

As I said above, even the Jiu Jitsu academy wasn’t immune from a valley moment this week. Some readers may be familiar with my It’s Time to Eat the Elephant philosophy and mantra from early last year. If not, you can read the post here. Earlier this year, I found a company that would put the 3rd Monkey TTETE artwork on a gi patch. They came in a couple of weeks ago. I was super excited. I planned on gifting them to a bunch of people who have helped me find and stay on the path. I gave them to family, friends, my coaches and training partners. You should know that my dojo is not just a Jiu Jitsu academy. We have robust Okinawan Karate and Muay Thai programs. My coaches recently returned from a multi-week trip to Thailand and Okinawa to train with the Masters. On Thursday, Coach C pointed out to me that in Thailand, the elephant is revered and nearly sacred. I just looked it up. The Elephant is the Thai national symbol. Holy Offensive Image, Batman! Have I mentioned that I teach cultural awareness and cultural diversity classes? This was a teachable moment. Now I have more material for future classes. I apologize for any offense I may have caused.


I haven’t done any writing outside of this blog this week, but I do have writing related news. A relative pointed out to me that Kindle Direct Publishing had changed their offerings recently. I checked it out. Yup. I was able to convert my existing e-book into a paperback for print-on-demand purchase. That means…..Rising Through the Ranks: Leadership Tools and Techniques for Law Enforcement is available for purchase again!

So, this is very exciting. Once I converted the e-book, it was available for purchase on Amazon within a day. I do have to disclose, there are some funky formatting issues, due to different size pages, but all the content is there. You can find it at Amazon, by clicking here.

Amendment…..I sat down at the computer on Monday and started putting together an outline for the follow up to RTtR. It’s a very small start, but it’s a start.


What fun stuff have I been up to since last week? Honestly, most of my fun time this week has centered on Jiu Jitsu. I hit all my regular classes, plus a fundamentals class and a youth class this week, so that was a win.

I got an awesome 4-mile ruck in last Sunday. It was a blast. This Saturday, I stretched it out a little bit and did just over 5 with about 25 lbs.


5.11 Tactical Covert Boxpack 32L w/ 2 sets of Rogue Fitness plates


We had a cool night out for date night on Wednesday. Great dinner at a favorite local stop and a fun stop for a nightcap at our local hipster bar. We had another fun time with an early dinner last night at one of our local craft breweries. Great beer, great food. Awesome.

Stay Safe. Keep the Faith. Do Good Work. 1*