Lead with the best version of yourself.

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From the Green Notebook


Lead with the best version of yourself.

Lead with the best version of yourself.

Searching for a Purpose in Professional Military Education

by David Kahan

My time at the Captain’s Career Course (CCC) was a disappointment. 

Arriving at Fort Huachuca, Arizona in April 2022, I hoped that Military Intelligence CCC (MICCC) might help either to prepare me for my next position or teach me useful skills that could be broadly applied within Military Intelligence (MI). 

Neither proved to be the case. 

Instead, I was met by a poorly designed course that left all attendees that I spoke with feeling unprepared for their follow-on assignments. It was not only difficult to engage with material that is of little use to our military careers, but even more so in an environment that diminished our experience over the past three to four years in leadership roles. This was exacerbated by the Army’s requirement that officers planning on separating within the next two years still attend. The end result was an expensive Army investment that seemed to only increase officers’ desire to separate as soon as possible. But perhaps the most frustrating part of all is the knowledge that the Army does have the resources to provide a more enriching, engaging and overall worthwhile educational experience. 

Ep 80: Joe Hart- How to Take Command

Joe Hart, the President and CEO of Dale Carnegie & Associates, joins the show to discuss his recently published book, Take Command: Find Your Inner Strength, Build Enduring Relationships, and Live the Life You Want.  Joe and Joe talk about the importance of gaining control of our thoughts and emotions, daily habits, and how to ask for feedback from other people. 

Click here to listen to the episode


About Joe

Joe Hart is the President/CEO of Dale Carnegie & Associates. Since 1912, Dale Carnegie Training has helped millions of people and businesses around the world improve their performance. In over 80 countries and in more than 30 languages, the company applies Dale Carnegie’s founding principles to inspire individual and organizational transformation, excellence, and success by tapping into each person’s potential. Take command of your business performance, career, and your future by visiting DaleCarnegie.com to learn more.  

Counterproductive Leadership: Impact to People and the Organization

by Jakob Hutter

Effective leaders who demonstrate confidence, courage, compassion, and character enable an organization’s success. Stay in any organization long enough, and you will understand that counterproductive leaders can leave serious harm to both the individual and to the organization. These behaviors are not immune from any one individual, but regardless of where it occurs, the short- and long-term effects can be destructive and detrimental to the future success of the organizational climate and culture. It is important then to understand what leaders are responsible for, the impact of counterproductive behaviors, and how you can recognize and overcome these behaviors to benefit your team and organization.

Perception is Reality, But is it?

by M. Chris Wingate

Perception is reality. We’ve all heard this phrase; and most of us have likely used it at some point in time. When leaders use the phrase “perception is reality” they are likely making assumptions about others without taking the time to learn if the perception is accurate. This phrase is rooted in a lack of humility and needs to be removed from our lexicon once and for all.

According to psychologists, a more accurate phrase is “perception is my reality.” Leaders often use “perception is reality” as a heuristic due to either being too busy or uninterested in asking additional questions to understand what’s really going on. Having the maturity to ask questions and determine why takes time, patience, and humility.  

Said a different way, perception is reality is a leader’s inability or lack of interest in understanding the character or motives of the individual in question. I’m guilty of it. I’ve used it in the past as a junior officer and I honestly did not think much of it at the time. Unconsciously I thought, “My boss said it, so I’m going to say it because he (or she) is successful, and I want to be like them someday.” So, we emulate those who have gone before us and inadvertently display the same lack of humility while never taking a step back to explore what we’re really saying to our subordinates.

Sixteen Things I Wish I Could Tell My Senior Rater

Authors’ Note: The authors of this post, @notyourtacofficer and @therecoveringcommander, are mid-career, post company-command officers wallowing in their KD-complete broadening assignment lives and contemplating what’s next. Referred to as the, “meme-lords of a generation” by literally no one, their views are their own and do not represent the United States Army, the Department of Defense, or From the Green Notebook. 

Many a well-meaning senior leader shares their personal leadership philosophy or a, “how to handle me” letter and while it’s important to understand, “how the boss thinks”, we feel that many of our leaders fail to understand us as well. Especially in the Profession of Arms, we are duty-bound to obey orders that are legal, moral, and ethical. Yet, as much as leaders say that they want candid feedback, there are “unspoken truths” that are often contradictory to the “unspoken norms”. Dr. Lenny Wong demonstrated that the Army has a problem lying to itself and this problem persists

We offer these perspectives as the junior military officer audience that LTC Dominick Edwards sought to reach (on this same website no less) in 2016. By no means is this a response or rebuff of his points: the authors of this article were First Lieutenants when LTC Edwards published this piece and could very well have been the ratees he sought to reach. We find many of them to be clear and relatable and with a few more years of service, may find ourselves agreeing with even more. Moreover, sharing your ideas publicly is admirable and we are grateful that leaders such as this consistently give of themselves to the profession. Thank you, Sir. Truly.

Despite claims of open door policies and that “feedback is a gift”, we humbly offer some truths that those you senior rate may hesitate to share with you and a handful of tips to help you understand their perspectives. Here are 16th truths your ratees believe you don’t understand and aren’t willing to risk telling you:

Ep 79: Command Sergeant Major JoAnn Naumann- When Adversity Strikes

Command Sergeant Major JoAnn Naumann shares her powerful story of coming to the realization that something wasn’t right internally and if she wanted to lead others, she needed to begin with herself.  Joe and JoAnn discuss stigmas with asking for help, the importance of habits and rituals, and setting professional boundaries. 

Running the Race, Real-Time Resilience

by Caleb Miller

The Olympic runner Eric Liddell, of Chariots of Fire fame, would say that “he felt God’s pleasure” when he ran.

I have no idea what he is talking about. 

I’ve always hated running. I’m not bad at it – that doesn’t mean I like it.

One of the things I hate about running is that it never seems to get easier. Sure, getting to a certain pace or time or distance can be done. But the experience of running – fast, hard, past the ability to hold a conversation (or shout a cadence!), often early in the morning in unfavorable weather conditions – has never been the least bit enjoyable for me. 

The Genius of Sherlock Holmes

by Paul W. Smith

Admittedly, I am probably late regarding my admiration of this particular subject, but thanks to the glory of my DVR I have been reintroduced to the show Elementary, a modern take on the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Joan Watson. Watching the show, I couldn’t help but glean some leadership principles from the world’s most famous detective and began wondering about the real source of Holmes’ “genius.”

In the last few weeks, I found myself diving into Army Doctrinal Publication (ADP) 6-22, Army Leadership, in preparation for the Commanders Assessment Program. With that fresh in my mind, I started seeing things around me with a new perspective. Interactions became opportunities to grow in the Army competencies (Leads, Develops, and Achieves) and even watching a TV show about a fictional detective developed into a demonstration for the attributes (Presence, Intellect, and Character) from the Army Leadership Requirements Model.

Watching Elementary, one can immediately recognize Sherlock’s presence. He makes an impact when walking into a room or, more likely on the show, a crime scene. The actor playing Holmes gives him a stiff demeanor that carries all the way through to his movements. It not only serves as a character trait but clearly sets him apart from everyone else. When Holmes enters, people notice.

He also takes fitness seriously, both for his well-being and for his profession. Sherlock boxes, practices Muay Thai, and is often shown exercising. This directly aligns with how the Army defines Presence. It is also one area where Sherlock’s veneer of perfection has some cracks, which I will address a little later.

Looking at the competencies listed in ADP 6-22, it is hard to deny that Sherlock achieves his goals. Week in and week out, he excels at catching criminals, wrapping up cases for the NYPD with flair, and consistently doing it within the hour run time for each episode. His ability to look at a crime scene, immediately assess the situation, and draw conclusions is nearly unmatched. Simply stated, Sherlock uses his innate skills and gifts to mobilize the NYPD to arrest suspect after suspect. The faith they have in his ability to get results is nearly infallible, backed up time and again by closed case after closed case.

Perhaps the most obvious attribute that comes to mind when thinking of Sherlock Holmes is Intellect. His expertise in a variety of topics, coupled with the ability to creatively link facts from personal experience, reading, and history help make him an excellent detective. Sherlock is a critical thinker, with several scenes per episode normally devoted to a mind map of each crime linking suspects, clues, and more until the criminal is eventually in custody. The ability to identify his shortfalls and actively work to improve them shows a degree of mental agility. When we first meet Sherlock in Elementary he lacks tact, but improves over time by learning from Watson and his partners within the NYPD.

While looking at these attributes and competencies help to demonstrate Sherlock is a leader in his field, one thing begins to jump out as a key to his success that is completely overlooked both in the show and far too often in real life as well. In each episode of Elementary, Sherlock works through multiple suspects before arriving at the real culprit. When I say that, it’s not simply that there are multiple suspects but that Sherlock levies accusations at two to three suspects per show, each time convinced that they are indeed the perpetrator.

When faced with those failures, the Precinct’s Captain and his fellow NYPD detectives could simply write off Sherlock and devote their time and resources to solving crimes through other means. Instead, they continue to believe in him and remain impressed with his initiative and creativity.

I think there is a lesson to be learned there.

Despite all Sherlock’s strengths when looking at his competencies and attributes, his true genius lies in his ability to fail, learn from those mistakes, and continue to be trusted.

As leaders we tend to be quick to attribute success to innate genius or nearly unattainable skill, but we fail to notice, or are just simply unaware of, the trial and error it took to get there. Elementary shows us those failures as Holmes, Watson, and the NYPD work through their suspect lists to eventually catch the culprit, all the while still maintaining that Sherlock is the world’s greatest detective.

What would happen if the opposite was true? If after one failure Sherlock and Dr. Watson were no longer allowed to serve the public, what impact would that have? The true winner in that scenario would be the criminals of New York. Similarly, when looking at our formations, how willing are we to allow those under us to fail? Do we grant that same opportunity for growth?

Leaders create environments that enable success, and part of that must be providing room for failure. Dave Hollis said, “You never lose when you fail; you only learn from experience” and in a business where lives are at stake failure and learning must happen early and often to minimize the impact at scale. If we do not tolerate failure, we stunt growth and limit learning.

As leaders we need to balance our reliance on attributes and competencies with the ability to tolerate failure in the pursuit of the growth of our subordinates. I would argue that we rarely see intellect, presence, and the ability to achieve in those that have not overcome failure. Invest time in the development of your people, expect mistakes along the way, and keep trusting in those you serve with because maybe, just maybe, the Army’s next “genius” is there in your formation.

LTC Paul Smith is an Army Logistics Officer stationed at Fort Knox, KY. He is currently the Quartermaster Branch Chief within the Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate at Human Resources Command.

Ep 78: Steven Pressfield- The Story We Tell Ourselves

Steven Pressfield returns to the podcast to discuss his newest book, Govt Cheese: A MemoirHe recounts his decades-long journey in “the wilderness”,  working as a truck driver, apple picker, and struggling  screenwriter, before discovering his true calling. Joe and Steven discuss the stories we tell ourselves when faced with failure and how hard work can be our saving grace. 

Click here to listen to the episode.


About Steven (@SPressfield)

Steven Pressfield is the author of The Legend of Bagger VanceGates of FireTides of WarLast of the AmazonsVirtues of WarThe Afghan CampaignKilling RommelThe ProfessionThe Lion’s GateThe War of ArtTurning ProDo the WorkThe Warrior EthosThe Authentic SwingAn American JewNobody Wants to Read Your Sh*tThe KnowledgeThe Artist’s Journey, and A Man at Arms

His debut novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, was adapted for screen. A film of the same title was released in 2000, directed by Robert Redford and starring Matt Damon, Will Smith and Charlize Theron.

His struggles to earn a living as a writer (it took seventeen years to get the first paycheck) are detailed in The War of Art, Turning ProThe Authentic SwingNobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, and The Knowledge.

Follow Steven’s blog and check out his books at www.stevenpressfield.com

What Reading Taught Me About Living in 2022

By Joe Byerly

Lesson #1: The finish line is never fixed

Several authors warned about the dangers of hitching our happiness to goal achievement. Too many of us spend years doing things we don’t enjoy while sacrificing the things that bring us fulfillment, all in the name of achieving success in the future. Some of us even think we’re managing success, but in actuality, success is managing us. That’s because the finish line of ambition is never fixed. It moves on us each time we cross it. 

In his book, From Strength to Strength, Arthur Brooks points out that it’s too easy to find ourselves running life on the Hedonic Treadmill. The dopamine high that achievement brings quickly dissipates after we get our hands around it. We’re left wanting to feel it again, so we chase after more. We expect to feel contentment on the other side of our goals, only to find the desire to chase our next success. He writes, “No matter how fast we run, we never arrive.” In The Earned Life, Marshall Goldsmith also commented on the dangers of living solely for ambition, writing that it gives us a rinse and repeat rhythm to life which doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness or fulfillment. 

Origin Story

In 2013, Joe Byerly thought something was missing in his journey to become a better leader. He wanted to create a place where leaders could share their hard-won lessons and help each other along the journey. He started looking in the place where he captured his own lessons, quotes from books, and ideas for the future –his green notebook.

Today, FTGN is run by a team of passionate professionals who want to help others lead with the best version of themselves.



Once Joe realized that reading could help him expand his mental models and help him unlock insights into past experiences, he adjusted his reading habits. He started reading more variety. He quit reading one book at a time and started reading multiple books at the same time. Each month, he shares his reading journey with thousands of other leaders who are interested in finding books that will help them become
better leaders and better people.


Over a decade ago, Joe figured out that writing helped him better understand lessons he picked up from experiences and reading. Now, Dan Vigeant and his talented team of editors help leaders share their lessons on the FTGN Blog.


Every Sunday morning, Joe and his writing partner Cassie Crosby start your week off with a short reflection to help you think about how you lead others. Each email has a book quote, a 2-min reflective post, and 2-3 questions to drive your reflection.


Joe dives into the notebooks of military leaders, coaches, artists, athletes, and business leaders to find the lessons we can use to help all of lead with the best version of ourselves.



Purchase copies of My Green Notebook for your team. And coming soon: Official FTGN merch and exclusive courses and leadership coaching opportunities.