[November 20, 2017] The English philosopher John Locke once said that “education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company, and reflection must finish him.” He was referring to the importance of learning how to be a productive citizen and sets forth the ingredients to do so. Everyone I know will attest, firsthand, that reading good books and reflecting on what books tell us is crucial to the development of certain skills like those supporting effective leadership. It is of interest to me that the best of those books – at least today – are not written by historians or philosophers but by military officers, clergymen, journalists, and artists. Hard to believe that be the case but, sadly, it is true that the best way to learn about thinking is not to read books authored by academics.
Return with Honor, Captain Scott O’Grady with Jeff Coplon, 1995.
I just finished a pleasant time reading a very humble book by Captain O’Grady and found it enlightening and satisfying to my reading palette. First a brief background … O’Grady is best known as the U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot who was shot down in the former Yugoslavia in 1995 while enforcing a United Nations no-flow zone. He survived for more than five days before being rescued and declared a hero upon his arriving home.
The book I read is autographed by O’Grady himself in 1996 and not lost on me the significance that humility played in O’Grady’s drive and passion. Captain O’Grady wrote the book to both document what it was that motivated him to survive and to set the record straight about what he did right and his many mistakes. His hope was that he could help future pilots (and others) who are placed in dangerous places where enemies are hunting you. One thing he never wanted was to be labeled a “hero” and, in fact, the attention heaped upon him was embarrassing for him.
Return with Honor is an easy read but it is also a thriller despite all of us knowing how the story ended. This is a story about one man’s fierce struggle to survive in the hostile territory of war-torn Bosnia and told in his own words. O’Grady was relentlessly hunted by Bosnian Serbs and yet he never gave up, relying on his survival training and faith in God to evade capture. This is truly an inspirational tale. Although Captain Scott O’Grady doesn’t want the title of “hero,” he does deserve it nonetheless.
To go to the full Professional Reading list, simply click on this direct link: www.theleadermaker.com/reading-list/
Side Note: Please remember and take a look at Tom Copeland’s reading blog. His website, which I highly recommend, can be found here: https://militaryreadinglists.com/map
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