As I delved into Unbreakable – A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life, by retired Navy SEAL Thom Shea I could quite shake the feeling of familiarity that the book brought to mind. There was just something about Shea offering up not only stories of his life in battle, but his desire to tell his story to his children why he chose the path he did and why he fought the battles he did to keep not only his children, but all of us safe.
And then it struck me, Shea had authored a Navy SEAL’s version of Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. While Pausch was dying from terminal cancer and wanted to leave behind life guidance for his kids, Shea was a warrior on the frontlines of war, facing not only enemies with total disregard for human life, but also the very real possibility that he might not return.
Shea not only takes us inside those frontline battles in a memoir, but he offers personal insights into his thought process and the things he did to protect the men in his command, but to offer advice to his children and us all how we could apply his training and actions to our life. The result is a very personal story and a great insight into the mind and actions of a warrior and what makes them tick.
The Making of a Navy SEAL - Brandon Webb (Griffin/St. Martin’s)
Retired Navy SEAL Brandon Webb has literally been the man who tells the story of the Navy SEALs. While many other former operators have taken up the pen, Webb has truly told the story of these special men from just about every possible angle; personal, historical, and clearly insider in action and in training some of the deadliest snipers in the history of warfare.
Now, he re-visits his personal story that he first told in The Red Circle, which was part autobiography and part story of his training of SEAL snipers; in The Making of a Navy SEAL, which he adapted for the young adult reader.
Webb writes with economy and delivers a sense of adventure that is sure to appeal to the young reader. His story of overcoming hardship and setting/achieving goals could easily inspire not only the next generation of warriors, but translates well to setting a path to a successful life, without coming off preachy or like a bad self-help book. If you have a young adult in need of direction in your life, I can’t think of a better Christmas gift.
Extreme Ownership – How the U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (St. Martin’s Press)
For me, the goal of any leadership book should be to impart not only practical, but also actionable information that I can put into play today. The question posed by Extreme Ownership – How the U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, a pair of former SEAL commanders is can the battle hardened leadership skills of been there done that warriors, translate to the to the work place?
Anyone who has ever tackled a leadership book (and I have shelves full) will know that it is easy for these books to stray off course and end up in the weeds of minutiae. Not the case here; Willink and Babin set the table for a series of leadership principles by relating a real life (at least their real life) battle field tale, the decision making process they went through in the moment and how you as a leader can apply that to your team/business.
The result is a very impactful approach to leadership and team building. The good news is you don’t have to go through the hell on earth of the Battle of Ramadi to apply these processes, Willink and Babin have done that for you; you gain from their experience, no body armor necessary.