Professional Development Army Style …

Flag US Army Chief of Staff.svgThis is no ordinary reading list …


“A sustained personal commitment to critical study of a wide range of readings constitutes an essential professional responsibility for members of the Army profession.”

From the foreword of the U.S. Army Chief of Staff’s Professional Reading List

Published by the U. S. Army Chief of Staff and designed to help create educated and thoughtful military leaders, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff’s Professional Reading List serves as a great example of an intentional learning activity. 

If your basic knowledge of the art and science of military affairs is shaped primarily by films or television, you have some catching up to do.  If you are serious about developing your leadership muscle, you would do well to consider both the use of a professional development reading list and this list in particular.  This list includes three major categories outlined below, along with my comments.

This is a deep dive into one of the primary vocations on our planet.

Armies at War: Battles and Campaigns

The Point:  Humans have engaged in armed conflict throughout our history … war is not going to go away, so we best get very good at understanding it.

Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Viktor …

Viktor Frankl

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Today marks the birthday of Viktor E. Frankl, a person whose ideas about we humans have been a driving force in my life for decades. 

I was first introduced to Frankl in graduate school and immediately felt drawn to his clear and compelling vision of how we are and how we should be. Frankl talks of the human condition and the power we have, if we choose to use it, to not just survive, but to thrive. 

His own life is an example and a proof of his ideas and observations.  His thinking grows from his experiences during World War II, especially his time spent in concentration camps. 

This is powerful stuff …

“It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

I have used his work in therapy, business, and teaching, as well as to become a better father, parent, and citizen.  He simply talks to our human condition in all manner of contexts.  For those of us who would lead and influence others, especially in times of great challenge, Frankl is a must-read … but you cannot just read his ideas.  You have to absorb them.

Here’s a suggested Personal Learning Plan for you:

To hear and see this gentle giant talk powerfully about our search for meaning in TEDTalk fashion:  CLICK HERE 

To read more of his wisdom, click on Viktor Frankl quotes on Goodreads

Then purchase Man’s Search for Meaning and reserve a small space of time to read this thin, yet incredibly full book.  You will find the few shekels to be one of your better investments. 

If you already own the book, dust it off, get real comfortable, and revisit each page.  You will not regret the few hours of reading.

“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Once you are hooked, go find a copy of The Will To Meaning:  Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy. This is Frankl’s more academic discussion of Logotherapy, based on his personal and professional experiences.  Don’t worry, it’s not as clinical as the title sounds.

Dusting off a very light layer of dust on a very old and very used book in the Heartland ….


Scholars …

Books“A scholar is a person who owns more hardcover books than paperbacks.”

Author unknown

Just thought I would remind everyone of this …  as I stare at bookshelves full of hardcover books and wondering why I am not smarter.

Maybe you have to actually read the darned things and then think about what you are reading. 

I guess you could talk to some other folks and share your ideas and reactions.

Using the knowledge in some productive way probably might help too.

Trying to figure it out in the Heartland ….


It’s Not All Up to The Author …

“There is then creative reading as well as creative writing. When the mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and the sense of our author is as broad as the world. We then see, what is always true, that, as the seer’s hour of vision is short and rare among heavy days and months, so is its record, perchance, the least part of his volume.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson in The American Scholar  

So if I understand Emerson correctly, we readers are not passive receptacles of knowledge and inspiration from the heights, but equal partners in the creative process.

… Well, that’s just cool:)

Doubling down with one of the many books on my Reading Stack to do my bit on a rainy afternoon in the Heartland ….


Source:  Reading Emerson website

“Hey … I’m Thinking Here, I’m Thinking Here …”

“Cogito, ergo sum”

(Rene Descartes, 1596-1650)

… with apologies to Ratso Rizzo of “Midnight Cowboy” fame .

This is a very elegant phrase. 

It describes something that we do throughout our lives, something which affects our every action, emotion, and thought, and which determines ultimately much of the quality of our days.

Every one of us has a brain … even though some try to convince us otherwise through their behavior and words.

Yet most of us know very little about how we do this all day, every day.

… not because we don’t have enough options to learn.   My preferred learning route is reading a book:    A recent search using the term “Brain” resulted in over 11, 000 titles, “cognition” yielded just over 7, 000, and “thinking” produced just under 7,000 hits and I only noted hardback titles.  Add in paperbacks and these number grow significantly.

Books about how the brain works, often attached to a promise to “reveal the secrets” or “learn better” are prominently displayed in most book stores.… and this is just the popular press.  If I had looked at academic articles, professional journals, and other sources of credible information, the list simply expands.

How we perceive, learn, change, sell, decide, and experience emotions are critical functions.  

If we do not have some understanding of how all these and related functions occur, we are at the mercy of what often appears as a random or mysterious world.   One in which our lives are experienced as a series of “magical moments” or indecipherable actions.

So I have some questions for you today:

Questions:  If you have read some on thinking, cognition, and how our brains work, what was the specific title and how would you rate it in terms of  

1)  Clarity:  How clearly written was the book?   Did it include understandable explanations?   Can you remember the points?

2)  Focus – What was the specific or main focus (neuroscience, politics, emotions, or other)?

3)  Usefulness –  How did this book help you in your daily professional or personal life?

I have my own recommendations, but those are for another day.   I  want to hear from others about what has helped them understand this distinctly human function.

If you have not or are not engaged in a personal learning project around how we think, choose a recommended title and start now.  It’s sort of important.

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

Well, something to think about anyway:)

Thinking my head off in the Heartland ….