Why and Where I’m writing this book
I’m writing this book from an off-the-grid cabin at 6,700 feet in the rugged alpine wilderness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Steep, cross-compartmented ridges cloaked in a canopy of old-growth Ponderosa and Jefferson pines surround the cabin. The terrain, altitude, and lack of road accessibility combine to provide for and protect a wildlife ecosystem that has remained mostly unmolested by man and machines in modern times. Trail cameras offer my only visual evidence of its stealthy inhabitants: large, lumbering black bears, muscle-bound mountain lions, schizophrenic pigs, and condors to name just a few.
Not a day has gone by over the past six years while working on this book that I didn’t pause to appreciate the wildlife, the wilderness, the land we call America, and the principle of freedom upon which they all stand.
Staring out the front window as the sun’s first photons touch the tops of the tree-lined peaks, it is with the same frame of reference that I reflect on my own life and leadership journey as I write the final chapters of this book.
I am the fortunate benefactor of what I have come to believe is one of life’s most esteemed privileges: that of leading fellow humans across continents, cultures and contexts.
Leadership, like life, is a privilege. Not for those we lead, rather for those of us who are fortunate enough to experience and learn from it. I’ve had the privilege of leading inter-agency and international teams while serving in the military; and leading Manufacturing, Sales, Marketing, and Research & Development teams while in Business. With privilege comes the responsibility to pay something back. If reciprocity is the currency of human interaction then knowledge is the gold standard that determines its worth. The value of what we give or what we get from any human interaction depends on the knowledge our brains learn from it.
The stories and lessons shared in this book were learned, implemented, and vetted by the living laboratory of real world leadership: from combat operations on five continents, to the boardrooms and back offices of cutting-edge Global corporations, and through the collective wisdom and knowledge of some the greatest leaders in human history. Everything I know about leadership is the byproduct of all of the brains I have had the privilege of interacting with and learning from throughout my life and leadership journey. I point this out up front to ensure I give credit where credit is due and to ensure I tell each and every one of them, “Thank you.”
Although the culture of my former military Unit is one of quiet professionalism that values humility over self-aggrandizement, that same culture also instills an innate sense of responsibility to contribute to the Greater Good of our country and species. I believe that the best way to balance this tension is by sharing my experiences and the corresponding lessons on leading, learning, and living life to the fullest via this book. Accurately understanding and sharing lessons from the past is an essential step for gaining insight into and preparing for the future.
The stories that follow are mine; the lessons belong to us all.