Installment 10: New Adventure, New Opportunity

Don’t want to read the whole post. Check out the video version here.

Good Sunday Morning VFOT fans and followers. It is a beautiful, sunny summer day here in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. I probably should be outside, rather than indoors typing, but the day is young and there’s still plenty of daylight left. Besides, I want to get today’s entry done, so I’m not in the office late tonight. Once again, it has been a busy couple of weeks, with lots of learning opportunities and travel. Let’s get to it.


My pro-reading time has been derailed or interrupted several times in the past couple of weeks, either because or early morning travel, or a couple of days of minor illness, so I feel like I’m a little behind. The primary pro-reading material remains Quiet Leadership by David Rock (Rock, David. (2006). Quite Leadership. New York, NY: Harper Collins.) I’m about a 3rd of the way through it, and have finished 2 of Rock’s 6 steps. As I stated last time, I’m really enjoying this book. It is reinforcing many recent lessons from other sources. I’m looking forward to incorporating these lessons into my personal leadership toolkit.

I’m into the Book of Micah in my Gospel reading and Whitman continues to round out my morning reading periods.

Other Reading 

I decided to take a step back from Simon Sinek during my secondary reading, only because another opportunity presented itself. My friend and Academy classmate gave me a thoughtful birthday gift, a written history, Thunder at the Gates, by Douglas R. Egerton (Egerton, Douglas, R. (2016). Thunder at the Gates. New York, NY: Basic Books.) Thunder is the history of the African-American Civil War regiments, specifically the Massachusetts 54th, 55th, and the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry. I couldn’t delay starting it. I’m loving this book. Besides the connection that my hometown of Pittsfield has to the 54th (their Chaplain, the Reverend Samuel Harrison, resided in Pittsfield and Pastored a church here), the history of these units is fascinating. I’ve only made it to their departure from Boston so far, but I’m looking forward to the rest of it.

The book’s prologue contains a passage, that I found particularly poignant and timely. I thought I’d share it here:

The Advantages of Living In Times Called Calamitous

 A nation does not know its strength until tested by calamity. Then it is, that its power of endurance and capacity to invent are developed. Its latent energy, unknown in times of peace and plenty, is forced into action. Listlessness gives way to caution; dormancy to untiring watchfulness; in a word it proves its power to exist, and thus commands respect from all.

 Misfortunes awake all the better feelings of our nature. In the hour of adversity we feel drawn closer to each other, and the common cord running through all humanity vibrates in sympathy for mutual suffering. We extend the narrow home circle till it includes the entire human family, and around a common cause we work with a common will. Our pride is humbled, and we are reminded of our dependence on a higher power. The gloom passes, the sun shines out. We walk stronger, better, freer!

–Norwood Penrose (Pen) Hallowell, Harvard College essay, March 22, 1860

Other Learning Opportunities 

I started off this period by attending a short seminar on the Commonwealth’s web-based emergency operations platform. This resource, referred to as WebEOC, is used to develop statewide situational awareness for large-scale pre-planned special events and emergencies. Since my role in emergency management will be changing and expanding soon, I thought I’d better get a better handle on using it.

I ended the 1st week by starting with a new cohort of recently promoted supervisors in the Massachusetts Trial Court Leadership Academy. I’ve been working with this program for several years. Due to scheduling issues, we had to modify it this time, and break up my sessions over 2 weeks. I started with them on Friday the 14th and spent all day with them at Westover Air Base.

I was back with them the following week on the 20th for a full day of tactical leadership during a crisis. They were a great group to work with, the facility is much better than their previous location and it sounds like the Department’s long-term plan is to increase the frequency of this program, so I’m looking forward to future opportunities with them.

That evening, I was back at work, and one of my Lieutenants and I presented the ALERTT Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) curriculum to a local congregation. That was really well received and we need to figure out how to roll that program out more widely.

I’m also getting ready to embark on another round of personal development coaching, so I have some prep work to do and get out to my coach in advance of that.

We wrapped up this week with the 5th session of our local Leadership Development Academy. The class has shifted to Quiet Leadership. The reviews are mixed so far. I think they’ll get more into it as they get deeper into the text. They’re doing amazing work on their project, and I’m excited and proud to see their progress.

I haven’t given much attention in earlier installments to discovering podcasts and trying to build new habits around them. Based on the benefits I realized from Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership, I had started regularly listening to Commander Wilink’s Jocko Podcast. I listen to that regularly now. Through that one, I discovered the Hands and Daylight Podcast. Hands and Daylight is recorded by the principles in Origin and Origin Labs, Pete Roberts and Brian Littlefield. Pete and Brian talk about business, Jiu Jitsu, life, the American Dream, and good old-fashioned grit. I really enjoy this one also. Recently, on Pete’s recommendation, I also checked out the Order of Man Podcast. Order of Man is hosted by Ryan Michler. Ryan is a veteran and entrepreneur. His purpose is to support men, by allowing them to network with and learn from like-minded men. I’ve only listened to a couple of them, so I’m not ready to make a recommendation yet, but so far, I’ve enjoyed them.


Writing has mostly been centered on lesson plans, correspondence, and this project. I’m working with some remote clients, and that has necessitated some new workflows. It’s a work in progress.


As I stated earlier, I was battling some minor illness issues during this period, so I had to be diligent to create opportunities for fun and relaxation. Work commitments required some shifts to my normal schedule. As a result, I trained a lot more no-gi Jiu Jitsu than I normally would. It reminded me how much I like training without the gi sometimes. I like the variety.

An evening budget hearing would have normally derailed the whole night, but C had some flexibility in her schedule, so we managed to have dinner together between appointments and the hearing.

Since C had traveled for work mid-week, we had a make-up date night on Friday night, and went and saw the movie Rocketman at The Beacon Cinema. It was a fun night out.

Last weekend, C and I both attended Pittsfield’s Pride Fest. She had to work on behalf of the College, but I went mainly to be able to spend some time with her, and to support our diverse community. It was a beautiful afternoon. I wrapped up that day by getting out on my new bike and taking a pretty nice ride. On Sunday, the weather was crappy and wouldn’t have made for a good ride…but it was an awesome day for a Ruck…so I got my pack on and got after it.   img_9646

Date night this week was dinner at the Proprietor’s Lodge, with a beautiful lake view, followed by a glass of wine and dessert at Mission.

Yesterday was a great Jiu Jitsu class, followed by a long bike ride, then making a short appearance at a small family reunion to kind of reconnect with my Mother’s extended family.

All in all, despite being a little under the weather, this has been an awesome couple of weeks.

Well, that’s more than enough for now. See you in a couple of weeks. Until then….

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


Installment 9: New Adventure, New Opportunity

Don’t want to read this post. Check the video version here.

This has been a full couple of weeks.
Hey VFOT fans. Welcome back to Installment 9 of New Adventure, New Opportunity. It has been a busy couple of weeks. There’s been a lot going on at work, plus quite of bit of stuff going on personally, all compounded by a lot of travel. Anyway, let’s get to it.

During my daily pro-reading, I finally finished Atomic Habits by James Clear (Clear, James. (2018). Atomic Habits. New York, NY: Avery). I really enjoyed this book. Clear breaks down the processes through which habits are formed, then suggest tools to build new productive habits and break bad habits. I took a lot from this book. I don’t know how successful I’ll be in defeating my bad habits and forming new ones, but I’m definitely better prepared as I try.

Once I completed Atomic Habits, I shifted to the second textbook for my ongoing Leadership Academy. This text, Quite Leadership, by David Rock (Rock, David. (2006). Quite Leadership. New York, NY: Harper Collins.), was selected by one of my prior academy students (and my Admin) for use in the 2nd class. I’ve been into this for a couple of days, and again, I’m really enjoying it. I’m only a couple of chapters in, but it’s very intriguing. Rock examines the importance of leaders working to change the way that their teams think, rather than focusing on performance. The principle is that by forming new patterns of thinking, improved performance will follow. It’s really intriguing. I’m looking forward to completing it.

Other Reading
In my secondary reading, I finished Shots Fired (Loughlin, Joseph, K. and Flora, Kate, Clark. (2017). Shots Fired: The Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, and Myths about Police Shootings. New York, NY: Skyhorse Press.) I can’t say enough good about this book. Definitely a must read for anyone in law enforcement, but it isn’t written for just that audience. As I stated in the last installment, anyone who has ever had questions about law enforcement deadly force encounters should read this book.

Once I finished that, I probably should have shifted to some light, relaxing reading for my secondary, but I didn’t. Instead, I decided to move on to one of Simon Sinek’s books. I’ve been a fan since I saw him speak at IACP a few years ago, but I never opened any of his books. I decided to start with Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t (Sinek, Simon. (2014). Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t. New York, NY: Penguin Random House.) Again, as I pick up these books that have been on my to do list, I keep finding myself wishing that I had read them sooner. If I can offer you one consistent lesson from this process, it is not to delay knowledge. When you become curious about something, get after it. Pick up the book, take the class, go to the show. Don’t delay it. I find myself wondering what I would have done differently with this new knowledge, if I’d had it years ago. Do it now.

My other observation through this process, is how often these divergent ideas or principles are starting to synergize. Clear, Rock, and Sinek are all very different, but all of their ideas and theories support one another. All of them also support Covey’s 3rd Alternative and Maxwell’s 21 rules. This period of personal development has brought consistent messages from a variety of sources.

Even the practical/tactical reading that I’ve been doing aligns with these personal development lessons. Teaching physical skills is much easier if you can use neuroscience and evolutionary habits to reinforce skills.

Other Learning Opportunities
As the weeks have progressed, I’ve had a couple of personal learning opportunities. I took another EF Online  learning module. This one was eye opening. It focused on Colonel John Boyd’s OODA Loop. OODA stands for observe, orient, decide and act. It is a decision-making model that was developed to help fighter pilots make more rapid decisions in dynamic combat situations. I’ve been using and teaching the OODA loop for over 20 years in tactical classes. The reason this module was so poignant, was that it focused on expanding the OODA loop to the workplace or office. It makes perfect sense. Every process can benefit from improved decision making, restricting the OODA Loop to tactical situations is a waste.

I also spent some time doing some online training modules developed by a friend’s company. These modules are based on improving human performance. Once again, more synergy between my learning opportunities.

I had a great supervisory roundtable with some of my senior staff. We reintroduced the concept of 7 critical tasks that a leader must complete in a crisis situation. We applied those 7 tasks to what I’ve come to call Hotbox Exercises. I use these exercises to put young supervisors into time compressed tabletop exercises of incidents they might face any day. They have to complete their tasks, deploy their units, request additional resources and prepare to turn over command. At the conclusion of the exercise, their peers evaluate them and offer suggestions.

On Thursday, I learned how to run the sound board at our local community radio station, in preparation of a new project we’re developing at work. More to come on that in a couple of weeks.

On Friday, I traveled to Franklin, MA to attend a 1-day workshop on Lethal Force and the Objectively Reasonable Officer. This session, offered by retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent John Michael (Mike) Callahan, was outstanding. SSA Callahan has years of experience investigating and evaluating use of force. His program focuses on both the legal aspects of law enforcement deadly force encounters and the physiological impacts of combat stress. Relying heavily on research material from the Force Science Research Institute and video clips, Callahan offers valuable material for anyone who teaches or evaluates Use of Force. This was a good one.

I’ve been off the writing path, other than my journaling and working on this blog, but I didn’t leave this until Sunday this time. I actually added material 3 times in the last 2 weeks, so there’s a small improvement.

This period has been marked by some definite fun. Last weekend, we traveled to Boston. C had to attend a residency for her doctoral program. We stayed in the city, attended a nice reception at the University, and dined at the Top of the Hub. It was amazing. This week, I trained, celebrated my birthday with an amazing night out, took a demo ride on a rigid-hulled inflatable boat that I’m looking at for the PD, and celebrated summer by sitting down and cracking some steamed blue crabs and crawfish with my younger brother.img_9596 This afternoon, the bride and I headed over to Easthampton, MA for a final birthday gift. She booked us with Pedal N Party for a pedal powered brewery tour. We got on the pedal powered party platform at noon and headed out to Abandoned Building Brewery, Mill 180 Park, New City Brewery, and Fort Hill Brewery. So Much FUN.img_8545 We just got home. I actually didn’t want to come down to the office to post this. Not a bad couple of weeks and the weekend isn’t over yet.

That’s all for now. See you in a couple of weeks. Until then:

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