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The Heart and the Fist: Book Review on Leadership

by Jim Taggart June 20, 2011

Every once in a while you come across someone who captivates your attention An individual who has something of substance to share with the world. A person who displays a high level of intelligence, humbleness, compassion and toughness. These types of people are few and far between.

Meet Eric Greitens, author of the new book The Heart and the Fist.

I first heard of Eric on Stephen Colbert, where he was interviewed in the spring of 2011. He appeared just days after Osama bin Laden had been killed by Navy Seals. Eric's autobiography had just been released, which served him well with respect to receiving media attention.

Eric's humbleness, intellect and compassion for humanity seemed at odds to what one would expect from a former member of the elite United States Navy Seals. I wanted to learn more – much more – from his leadership experiences, starting out as a teenager and up to his current age of about 37. While travelling through New England in June I came across his book at a bookstore and immediately immersed myself in it.

I'm a fast reader and don't have much time for bullshit prose or self-serving leadership stories. The Heart and the Fist is a very different book.

Whether it was reading about Eric's boxing coach, Earl, while studying at Duke University, or his studies and continued boxing at Oxford, or his humanitarian relief work in Bosnia and Rwanda, or his Navy Seal training and subsequent deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, this book is a spell-binding account of one young man's growth as a leader.

Watch this video of Eric talking about his passion.

The Heart and the Fist is book of hope, conviction and inspiration.

Read it. You'll be energized and inspired to do something positive in a world characterized by cynicism and bad news stories.

What's remarkable about Eric Greitens is that he's not even forty years old yet he's lived the equivalent of several lifetimes.

I'd like to share with you one passage from The Heart and the Fist, spoken by Navy Seals Instructor Harmon. Eric was about to start Hell Week as a Navy Seal in-training. Seen as the toughest training in the world, it's intended to break down the potential Seals to expose who they are as human beings.

Each one of you is like an earthen vessel–a beautiful piece of pottery–prettied up by your fathers and mothers and teachers with tender loving care. In a few days, Hell Week is going to begin, and we're going to smash you on the ground, break you open, and we're going to see what's inside each one of you. With many of you, we'll find nothing. There's just empty air. You are empty men without substance. For others, when you break we're going to have to turn away from the smell, because you live in a weak culture that has allowed you to get by on charm and pretty talk and backslapping and you have practiced dishing manure for so long that it almost seeps out of your every pore, and now, that is what you are. For others, when we smash you, we'll find inside a sword made of pure Damascus steel. And you are going to become Navy Seals.

Read this book. It will leave a very positive impact upon you.

Warriors are warriors not because of their strength, but because of their ability to apply strength to good purpose.
– Eric Greitens