The Unknown Known: Morris Study of the Unknown Known Rumsfeld

Subject:  What you know. There are known knowns.  There are known unknowns.  There are unknown unknowns.  But there are also unknown knowns.  That is to say, things that you think you know that turns out you did not.  — Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, 1975-1977, 2001-2006 Love or hate Donald Rumsfeld …. the man got one thing right.  He understood the way to defeat enemies is to understand the possibilities that exist in the war space.  The Machiavellian politician understood that for a leader to make decisions they must understand the situation to include facts and assumptions that are both…

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Fog of War: Errol Morris and Robert McNamara Discuss Military Failures

An intelligent person takes appropriate actions to effectively plan for future activities and postulate for any scenarios that would cause problems.  A wise person not only reviews those plans and subsequent actions following the prescribed events, but they apply those lessons at future engagements. Fog of War (2003), from Academy Award winning documentarian Erol Morris, is a film comprising multiple interviews with Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (1961 – 1968) for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.  Not known to be either humble nor admitting his failures, Fog of War was released 6 years before McNamara’s death at…

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They Live: Do not STAY ASLEEP

“A whole lot of people going crazy over some nutty dream they just had.  The truth is, this kind of shit happens at the end of every century.  It’s just people afraid to face the future.”  — They Live The 1980s provided movie watchers some memorable movies that have aged very well or even done better.  One of the best science fiction movies from that era was Wes Craven’s They Live (1988) starring Roddy Piper and Keith David.  Since its original release, the movie gained a cult classic status and has one of the best lines in any movie (that would later be…

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What Causes Your Tears of Pride?

Tears come upon people for many various reasons.  Psychologists, generally speaking, categorize tears into “negative” and “positive” tears, all in context of the physical reasons for said tears.  Tears are the physical response of the brain’s cognitive reaction to the environment it senses; therefore, tears can be for negative (death, destruction, and depression) and positive (achievement, happiness, and affection) reasons. Albert Richard Smith, an English author, said it best:  “Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it.” A smart man or woman knows that tears are in response to the horrors or…

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READ IT!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, you more places you will go.” –Dr. Suess     What if I told you that you could take part in an experience without ever having lived it yourself? Reading can help you do just that. Want to know what all leaders have in common? They read—and read voraciously. Reading is how you thrive and survive in today’s military. However, in recent times, young officers (and enlisted alike) are putting less importance on professionally developing through reading. Ret. General Mattis, in an email to his troops…

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Amistad: Doing What is Right When Others Don’t

“…that the said negroes be declared to be free, and be dismissed from the custody of the court, and go without delay.”   — United States v. Amistad We all have our reasons for joining the military.  Those reasons are varied in theme and at the core have some sort of selfish manner no matter the patriotic zeal.  At our moral centers though is a desire knowing our actions matter; that our daily emotional, mental, and physical struggles are properly sacrificed for something of a higher regard.  We want to know that what we do matter and that these sacrifices…

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Be the Leader the Team Needs

Let’s do something different….  I need you to watch a video. Bruce delivers great advice.  Empty your mind.  Be formless, shapeless, like water.  You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup.  You put it in a bottle, it becomes the bottle.  You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.     Now water can flow or it can crash.  Be water, my friend. “Being like water” can help you apply new tactics in a rapidly changing battle space.  It can help you land a fulfilling job after you leave the military.  And it can help you find…

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Lessons on Painting at Work

Author’s Note:  This was a Facebook note that I wrote while going through a mid-career crisis.  I had applied (and was approved) for separation; but following a lack of preparation and an economic downturn, I pulled my paperwork and stayed Active Duty.  I had one of the best Squadron Commanders of my career replaced with one of the worst of my career.  The lessons learned in two months about toxic leadership made me really contemplate what is good and bad leadership.  That story will be shared at a later date.  On a side note… the individual from this story has…

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For Everyone’s Sake, Don’t Be an Armchair General

“Agility, iteration of planning and transformational thinking are all key to avoiding the fate of the armchair general.”  –Sue Unerman Don’t be an Armchair General Philosophers, journalists, and revolutionaries throughout time have always commented on or shifted public opinion regarding military actions and operations.  Because of the political, economic, and strategic impacts military operations have on the society, these groups function as a bulwark against actual and perceived military failures.  National strength and pride underpin their actions ensuring the right actions are taken to keep insecurities hidden in the societal zeitgeist and instead highlight the message they want to convey…

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Seek Counsel to Unlock Success

“No man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.” Ben Jonson (British Playwright and Poet, 1572-1637) Seeking wise counsel has made all the difference during my military service; although, it hasn’t always been easy. I have learned the importance of finding the right advisor for the situation, using discernment to understand which advice is worth taking, and finally, having the humility to listen when the counsel takes me outside my comfort zone. Mentoring, coaching, and counseling are…

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