Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review: The Heart And The Fist by Eric Greitens

Over the last several months in a wide spectrum of contexts I've been seeing the name Eric Greitens come up. He's an author, a Rhodes Scholar, a Navy SEAL, a humanitarian, founder of The Mission Continues, and currently a candidate for governor of Missouri. Because his name has been popping up in a variety of different contexts, I decided I would do a quick Google search.

When I did, among the top hits were a couple of books, one called Resilience, and the other was The Heart And The Fist. I decided to start by reading The Heart And The Fist because of its subtitle, The Education Of A Humanitarian, The Making Of A Navy SEAL. This title intrigued me on a few levels. First, given Nuru CEO Jake Harriman's background as a Force Recon platoon commander, I wondered what similarities may exist between the genesis of Nuru in Jake's mind and Eric Greitens' own experiences and conclusions. Separately, I find myself encouraged by the lives of others who have sought to work for a better world, and Mr. Greitens seems to be a person who has sought to do that with his life. I figure any time I can read a book where a person is willing to open up their life and share some of their personal lessons, I am usually made better through it.

And so I picked up The Heart And The Fist. What I love about the book is that there is a mixture of these biographical sketches from different seasons of the author's life that each include both humor and nuggets of wisdom. In even the most serious moments of life it seems there can be an occasion to smile, to experience gratitude, and an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. In the preface of the book, Eric succinctly articulates his thesis. The stories he shares reflect this truth, "...without courage, compassion falters, and without compassion, courage has no direction...it is within our power, and that the world requires of us--of every one of us--that we be both good and strong...For each of us there is a place on the frontlines."

In each chapter of the book, Eric focuses in on key experiences and individuals who helped him learn important life lessons, and who inspire him to bring his best into whatever he does. Although the book is a story about moments that shaped his life, it is just as much a testimonial and tribute to individuals who gave him inspiration and who by being written about, may have the opportunity to give us inspiration as well. In this book, he communicates with a vulnerability and an honesty that does not attempt to paint any of these individuals (including himself) in a perfect light, but rather to show that even amid our imperfections, we each have valuable life lessons to impart, and we each have a unique contribution on the frontlines, wherever they may be.

I highly recommend picking up a copy of his book, and soaking in these stories of hardship, heroism, and simple truths in the hope that it might help you to bring your best to wherever you have been placed, and further, that it might inspire you to be both strong and good. In the words of the philosopher John Stuart Mill (also quoted in the book), " The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."  May we be a people who are willing to fight for good, who are relentless in standing strong, and purposeful in laying down our lives and our comforts for the good of others.


Unknown said...

Great review. I am a huge fan of Eric, having read The Heart and The Fist and then hiring him to give a leadership talk at a company event. From there, I hired him to do another 14 events where he shared his message with my clients. This is the first ever event series were afterwards folks were coming up and saying this is the best IBM event I've ever attended. He is a fantastic speaker and his books are great.

I would explain to our attendees, The Heart and The Fist will make you want to be a better person, Resilience will give you the tools to be that better person.

As a Ohio resident, I truly hope Eric wins the Missouri Governor race so I can have the opportunity to vote for him as President of the United States in the future.

He is featured in another new book, named Charlie Mike (aka in military speak as Continue the Mission), alongside one of his Mission Continues fellows Jake Wood. Another worthy read.

Helen said...

I have not read Eric's book but I've met him and think he is an amazing person. I think we Missourians would benefit a great deal from his leadership.