Tag Archives: behavioral health

Book Review · Embarrassing Confessions of a Marine Lieutenant

Reading another excellent book.
Reading another excellent book.

I met Donny at the Silkies Hike in Fayetteville, N. Car., 2020.  Great person.  Awesome book.  And I love Donny’s TV channel, VET Tv.

Recommend.  206 pages.  Recommend, although for a very niche audience – particularly those who enjoy dark humor, and who probably also read Duffel Blog, Terminal Lance, or have watched all of Generation Kill.

The book starts with a story about a massage parlor.  “Despite my impressively low standards (thanks to my ability to see beauty on a deep level), I still didn’t see any good looking locals, so I was starting to worry about the quality of the masseuses” (p. 24)!  Ha!  I laughed from beginning-to-end with this book.

Despite its irreverence, or perhaps because of it, Donny brings to light critical issues within the veteran community.  The 22+ veteran suicides per day, the incredible frustration we face, and our loyalty vs. integrity conflict.

One of my favorite quotes describes the frustration of the veteran we place in harm’s way. “He’s angry at the Taliban, the Afghan people, the Afghan Gov’t, and the US Gov’t for throwing him into a minefield and tying his hands behind his back” (p. 106).

On loyalty, we routinely face a struggle between moral and legal.  I like to phrase it as a question.  If it causes more harm to follow the rules than to break them, what would a good man choose?  Donny answers, “So I disobeyed orders, I did what my conscience needed, what I thought all my little brothers deserved” (p. 107).

And like all good messages, the book ends with a call to action.  Donny calls for commanders to more actively connect those who’ve endured behavioral challenges to those who’ve suffered similarly.


Book Review · Breakthrough

Reading another excellent book.

Recommend.  The author shares an almost miraculous story of helping his wife recover from an end-stage diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.  Peter shares his frustration with those tasked to help, and the heartbreaking struggle of watching his wife suffer.  At least three themes that he experienced (and continues to experience) compelled me to keep flipping the pages.


I didn’t know anything about Alzheimer’s until reading this book.  Rather than thinking of it as a disease, Peter points out that it more fittingly qualifies as a set of conditions.  Different persons with Alzheimer’s possess varying amounts within that set, and therefore treatment would mean something different for each patient.  He argues that this leads caregivers to conclude that Alzheimer’s remains incurable. He further argues that such thinking translates into untreatable as if there existed a single magic bullet.


In dealing with the many doctors with whom he found it challenging to work, he asserts that reason should outweigh credentials.  As he says, BS is BS regardless of one’s degrees. Third, the incentives of caregivers (such as that of a rest home) vs. care receivers.  One of the sad observations that Peter makes in the book consists of the poor conditions he encountered in rest homes, both to do with the facilities and the staff.  Given the nature of Alzheimer’s, it proves difficult to understand a patient.  He found that too many times, caregivers would choose to drug his wife into silence rather than try to understand her.


One of the sad observations that Peter makes in the book consists of the poor conditions he encountered in rest homes, both to do with the facilities and the staff.  Given the nature of Alzheimer’s, it proves difficult to understand a patient.  He found that too many times, caregivers would choose to drug his wife into silence rather than try to understand her.


Problem, challenge, adventure

I remember hearing this NCO say on offense once, “I only know two phases of the attack: movement to contact and… adventures…” He might have been echoing a different sentiment than the one I imagined; namely, that the plan tends to go out the window as soon as the bad guys shoot back.

Since this makes year 18 for me and I probably won’t be getting company command (nor do I care either way), I’m continuing to live my role of officer in charge of random things. Some call it, random-ass bullshit.

I don’t. Yeah… it sometimes feels that way and maybe it really is. But since I have to do it, couldn’t I still find something meaningful about it? Instead of a problem, I could see it as a challenge. Maybe instead of a challenge, I could try seeing it as… an adventure!

As Tony Robbins says, instead of seeing it as something you have to do, why not something you get to do? Like how you might’ve seen it at the beginning. Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn.com and billionaire, calls it being in permanent beta. Ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said that the common man marvels at uncommon things, whereas the wise man marvels at the common.

I saw a documentary on Catholic nuns in advanced age who donated their brains to science upon death. Their brains revealed the structural symptoms of Alzheimer’s, yet, prior to death they exhibited none of the behavioral symptoms. An analysis of their daily rituals revealed the habit of forever learning something new, being eternal students.

I got tasked yesterday with a particularly vague task, to obtain the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, why) on an upcoming exercise. My boss just gave me the name of exercise. I asked how soon she wanted the answer. She said after lunch.

She left a lot of blanks. Maybe I should’ve asked more question. Maybe she should’ve given more details. This happens quite often to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a captain and she feels I shouldn’t need to be micromanaged with all the small details.

Either way, she left blanks. If you leave me with blanks, I’ll fill in the blanks myself. Why? Why not? I take that as my cue to exercise reasonable discretion.

This lack of detail I used to find frustrating, but as the years went by, I’ve come to expect all work to be an iterative process and that there’s a lot of adventure in filling in the blanks.

Copy success, map out a book

I mentioned this in a previous post. It’s worth repeating. Not only does success leave clues, but successful people write books about how they did it. Sometimes, they write the chapters in sequential order. Why not outline the book and build from there, hence standing on the shoulders of giants? Why reinvent the wheel?

Right now I’m reading Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence (2013) by D. Goleman, psychologist and bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence. Really good book so far. I started en media res with the chapter titled, “The Myth of 10,000 Hours.”

A couple years ago, I found myself in a psych ward. I didn’t expect to end up there and especially not for as long as I did, but I’m grateful for the time to reflect. People asked why, and if I had a reason, I feel that having a reason itself would imply a rational decision. I didn’t get myself sent to nuthouse because I was being rational.

I always imagined the psych ward as a place with white padded walls and people wearing straight jackets. No. Not this one, at least. We wore hospital gowns and blue socks with a non-slip coating at the bottom. I still have the socks, which I call my crazy socks.

If I could point to some reason that got me there, I’d say it was my focus. I hated my job. Still do, if by “I hate my job” one means rating job satisfaction as 6 of 10 or lower. Hate might be too strong a word. I’m proud of what I do, it just doesn’t fulfill me anymore and hasn’t for quite some time. I’m not alone.

I see it both inside and outside the military. It’s rare to find anyone who honestly likes his job. A job seems to define having to, as opposed to wanting to.

My focus on everything going wrong with my life (divorce, losing my kids, hating my job, getting yet another undesired duty station, another undesired position…) precipitated into my trip to the psych ward. My focus became a daily, self-destructive habit.

I began reading regularly, out of desperation for something more yet not knowing exactly what more meant. I’ve averaged one book a week since then. I started with a book recommended to me by an occupational therapist, You Are a Badass (2013) by J. Sincero.

The personal development category of books seems to overlap plenty with the small business and entrepreneurship sections. I found my way into learning about e-commerce and Amazon FBA. Earning that first dollar online was just amazing. Although, I wouldn’t call that first year profitable. I’d call it educational.

When we moved from Texas to North Carolina this year, 2018, we placed that on hold. I’ve taken more interest in digital products. Learning about digital products fits our need to remain mobile while serve on active duty in the military.

Digital products also more readily allow for scale, performance measurements, and independence between my time (which the military makes unpredictable) and operations and the performance of the product. And so I read books about the business models that I believed I could implement while working my full-time job.

Anyway, if you want to learn about any business model, someone probably already wrote a book about it. Maybe it’s not a great book, but it’s a start. If you read several books about that same model, you begin to think like someone already using the model.

You prime the RAS (reticular activating system) and begin seeing in the world the thing you’re looking for. And if you outline one of those books, the very act of writing it produces discoveries and a more complete picture – like conducting a map recon.

Like a map, its user’s present location and desired destination remain specific to the user. I believe that there’s really no one or no book to help you get to where you want to go, because that’s very specific to you.

M.J. DeMarco in his book Unscripted (2017), says that there is no fucking list! That is, no list of steps to what you find meaningful in life. Only you know what you find meaningful in life. Having a map helps.