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STARING DOWN THE WOLF
St. Martin’s Press
March 3, 2020
Staring Down the Wolf is written by Mark Divine, a retired Navy SEAL Commander turned corporate leadership coach. I really love books like this, and I’ve read a bunch (see my reviews for Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership), but I have to say that this book has impacted me in ways I’m still having trouble articulating.
The book talks about seven principles that, when done correctly, make effective leaders (and good humans). They are courage, trust, respect, growth, excellence, resiliency, and alignment. There’s also an eighth chapter that encourages people to be willing to commit to a big mission, something worthy of your time and energy, your life. (On a side note, the interview with former Navy Seal Damien Mander in the final pages of the book brought honest-to-God tears to my eyes. Mander lives in Zimbabwe and trains locals to be part of anti-animal-poaching units. His description of the all-women units who have succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations and completely transformed the way Mander views conflict resolution, gave me goose bumps. Let’s just say that women are the steadfast providers and protectors who know how to bring stability to chaos, and there’s a good chance that the Power of Vagina is going to be the very thing that will save this world from itself. But I digress…)
I could give you a play-by-play of each chapter in here, but my review would read like its own novel. I pulled so many quotes out of the book, I could go on and on. What I will tell you is that author Divine has given me so much peace—peace because I feel like it’s okay to believe that it’s possible to be kind and also incredibly badass at the same time. The last few years I have felt rudderless, in a way. I’ve seen so many assholes in positions of power, getting away with such reprehensible conduct—from the ruthless Real Housewives on my block to our dip shit president—that I’ve lost hope. I’ve allowed myself to stop believing in the importance of a higher standard, one that’s just for me, no matter the external circumstances, just because it’s good and moral and right. I’ve allowed myself to be lesser than, certainly less than I could be. This book reminds me of what it once felt like to be young and to trust and to believe, with my whole heart, in the goodness of a message that I know in my bones to be true. I’m going to sound dramatic now, but, honestly, this book felt like a homecoming for me.
I loved the chapters on courage, trust, and respect, with the emphasis on mastering fear through training, being transparent and honest, willing to admit your fuckups quickly and bravely so you can repair relationships and move on. I also really appreciate the theme that comes up again and again, to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, to have that focus and vision that you reinforce to yourself daily so that you act in a way that aligns with your true values.
I’m gushing, guys, I know. But wow, this book has stopped me in my tracks. Given everything that is going on in the world, it is exactly what I needed to read at exactly the right time. I’ve got a lot to think about and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Big thank you to St. Martin’s Press, Net Galley, and Mark Divine for the ARC!