Military Book Reviews

Leadership: A Life Sport

Leadership: A Life Sport, by Jacob Werksman (Independently Published, September 2020, 186 Pages)

Leadership: A Life Sport offers timeless lessons for focusing leaders on the most important attributes needed to win at life, as an individual, teammate, and team. 

Like sports, leadership first requires aspiring leaders to be great individual players before they can be part of a great team. As former Navy SEAL team leader and sniper Jacob Werksman reasons,, “you have to be a great ‘me’ before you can be a great ‘we.’” Werksman is a role model for aspiring leaders and uses his book to provide advice and wisdom on establishing goals and trusting the journey. Through his storytelling, Werksman shares personal anecdotes, sports analogies, and motivational quotes for qualities leaders need. Tips for achieving each quality are reinforced through numerous takeaways in an easy to read format. 

Besides the individual qualities needed, Werksman also suggests qualities critical to being a strong team leader. Many of these team leadership qualities can be traced directly to the individual qualities. And Werksman masterfully weaves the team context into his takeaways. To promote a lifelong commitment to leadership, Werksman concludes his book with imperatives for continuous evaluation and improvement. Current leaders seeking refresher lessons for individual and team improvement can use this book as a reference guide to lifelong learning and growth. 

Takeaways from Three Key Qualities 
  • Self-Awareness .

Self-awareness drives most of the other critical attributes needed to win at life, according to Werksman. And, self-awareness generates two qualities needed for winning: integrity and humility. By staying true to their moral compass and setting aside their ego, a leader can make decisions aligned with their guiding principles and ethics and support the greater good of any team. 

Self-awareness also triggers continuous evaluation and improvement. Without self-awareness (the ability to know yourself), it is impossible to continuously learn and grow. By recognizing that perception is reality and evaluating yourself as others perceive you, a leader will be better prepared for criticism and have the discipline and fortitude to address areas of improvement for themselves and their team.  

  • Attitude

Attitude is a team leadership attribute that is a product of two key individual qualities: choice and mindset. It is not what happens to you, but how you react to what happens that matters. An effective leader has power in controlling the way they respond to what is happening. That power of choice is controllable from within. A leader will have the power to control their thoughts, attitude, expectations, beliefs, actions, responses, habits, and emotions. A positive mental attitude is key to winning.

This power of choice can be used to influence the mindset: mental messages, visualizations, and outlook. These internal thoughts are completely up to the individual to control, but are often externally influenced by negativity. To maintain a positive mental attitude, a leader will exercise their power of choice: they will not participate in negativity or condone negative attitudes on their team. 

  • Passion and Purpose

For transitioning military, the aspiring leader should first find their passion, then follow it, when considering civilian career options. As the saying goes, “choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” True job satisfaction is based on the degree of how well your life’s work aligns with your life’s purpose and calling. 

As the aspiring leader’s journey continues along their path to improve, they will passion and purpose to be and stay motivated. To start winning and keep winning at leadership, the leader must tap into their passion and continuously seek improvement through meaningful wisdom, mentorship, an relationships. To live a life of purpose, one a leader will be proud of, they must “leave it all on the field.” Tomorrow isn’t promised. With only one life to live, true leaders will live it without regrets. 

This book review was provided by Deb Yeagle is President of Plan To Win, Inc., a consulting firm supporting federal government contractors. During her 13 year career in industry, Yeagle has held a wide variety of business development and operational leadership roles in the defense, intelligence, and federal civilian market and supports transitioning military and veterans in starting successful businesses. She can be reached via Linked In and email.  

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