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Life has No Mistakes, Only Lessons

“By permitting oneself to laugh at the world, and think outside the boundaries of ordinary normal thoughts, brilliant new solutions can arise.”
– Pete Blaber, Autor of The Mission, the Men, and Me

A review of:

Blaber, Pete. The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander. New York: Berkley Caliber, 2008. Print.

Normally I would not read a book like, The Mission, The Men and Me. But a friend whose opinion I value cornered me. Said friend had ventured into a different part of the book store on my behalf, and now it was my turn to do likewise. I was obligated for friendship’s sake. (You know how that goes). I planned to honestly and politely begin the book and somewhere along the way, after reading the few chapters etiquette demanded, stop.

Except I didn’t.

I kept reading.

Beyond the testosterone oozing pages, Pete Blaber’s The Mission, The Men and Me offers insightful life lessons for anyone who finds themselves in a position of leadership. Blaber avoids parroting platitudes found in many leadership books by scattering his nuggets of wisdom amongst stories of his positive and negative experiences as a Delta Force commander. The tales alone would have probably sufficed to hold a reader’s interest for the length of the book — like hunting down war criminals in the Balkans, training along the Continental Divide in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in Montana and guiding his men in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan. However, combined with thoughtful reflections about constructive and destructive leadership modus operandi, Mr. Blaber successfully elevates his book from a military account to a leadership strategy manual.

Some of the passages I highlighted:

“The most effective weapon on any battlefield – whether it be combat, business, or life – is our mind’s ability to recognize life’s underlying patterns”

“There are no mistakes in life, only lessons.”

“History has proven it’s not the quantity of men or the quality of weapons that make the ultimate difference; it’s the ability to out-think and out-imagine the enemy that always has, and always will, determine the ultimate victor.”

“By permitting oneself to laugh at the world, and think outside the boundaries of ordinary normal thoughts, brilliant new solutions can arise.”

“Pride and hubris are two of the most common derailers of a person’s common sense.”

“…good leaders don’t wait for official blessings to try things out. They use common sense to guide them because they understand a simple fact of life in most organizations: if you ask enough people for permission, you’ll inevitably find someone who believes that they should tell you no.”

“… a leader must possess some key traits, specifically openness, an adaptive approach to thinking and making decisions, and constant deferral to the guy on the ground.”

“… convinced that it was far better to be doubted, mocked, and ignored than micromanaged.”

“My job as a leader wasn’t to tell them how to do their jobs; rather, it was to provide an environment that fostered experimentation, followed by thoughtful and honest reflection on what we learned and how we could apply it.”

“Courage has been called a contradiction in terms, meaning a strong desire to live manifest as a readiness to die.”

“It’s not reality unless it’s shared isn’t just a guiding principle for how to think and make decisions…it’s also a guiding principle for how to operationalize.”

“The single best thinking and decision-making tool a leader has is to consistently conduct reality checks by asking a profoundly simple question: “What’s your recommendation?”

So if you are looking for an interesting book this summer, my recommendation would be for you too to broaden the boundaries of your normal literary horizons and consider Mr. Blaber’s 


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