Military Book Reviews

Rock the Boat

Rock the Boat: Embrace Change, Encourage Innovation, and Be a Successful Leader  by Danelle Barrett (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2021, 238 pages)

This is your chance! Rock the Boat: Embrace Change, Encourage Innovation, and Be a Successful Leader by Danelle Barrett is here to help you do just that. Whether you are a mentor or mentee, hopefully both, Retired Rear Admiral Barrett’s book is packed with useful lessons, guidance on how to navigate various situations, and practical application scenarios to aid comprehension. In her terms, leadership consists of three basic principles; inspire and connect, find three positives, and do not be a jerk. She also states it is so easy a monkey could do it. 

In revisiting the lessons she learned over a successful thirty-plus year naval career, the author covers a range of topics including why mentorship matters, effective communication, and work/life balance. In doing so, she shares both her best and worst moments and her lessons from observing other leaders. Barrett is passionate about passing this knowledge on, as evidenced by what and how she shares her wisdom. Her personality and leadership style come through clearly and surprisingly different from the usual retired military officer narrative. One thing is clear; those who served with Barrett were lucky to have someone who cared as much for the people, if not more, than she did the mission and the organization.  

Each chapter offers a different lesson and finishes in two key ways: with a “sea story” and three positives. If reading the narrative does not convey the lesson, her sea story can. And the three positives from each lesson are the “so-what?” They stay with the reader long after the lesson and sea story are over. 

Not every lesson shared is new or an “ah-ha moment;” however, they offer a fresh perspective and can serve as reminders. Comprehending the lessons and relating to the stories can be a great reminder to be humble in all our doings—humbleness being a cornerstone of Barret’s leadership. The book itself is a constant reminder that we, as leaders, have a duty to those we lead. A duty to make other leaders. A duty to build the team. A duty to do what is best for people and the organization (it can be done). It is a reminder that collectively the team can overcome what no one person could do alone and that we are never really done learning in this journey we call life. 

Read the book and be mentored by a leader who has seen much, navigated tough waters, and shares the ups and downs she experienced to help make others better. Use the lessons learned in your everyday situations to better deal with them and in turn share the lessons with others. The book is a light, simple read without complicated formulas to great leadership, mentorship, and life. It is said that the only constant we have is change. So, learn, adapt, overcome, and repeat.

We all have much to learn throughout our careers and in life in general. Together we can! 

Review provided by Craig A. Jones. Craig retired from the Marine Corps in 2010 following his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is a Program/Project and Product Management Professional, a published author, the Vice-President of the Board. Read more about Craig at

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