Read: December 2023

Inspiration: Came across on Amazon’s bestseller list; wanted to continue reading the stories and life lessons of esteemed Navy SEALs


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

“The Wisdom of the Bullfrog”, published in 2023 by retired Navy SEAL and author William McRaven, is McRaven’s clear-eyed treatise on the leadership qualities that separate the good from the truly great. The book breaks down 18 sayings, mottos, and parables used in the military, which helped admiral William H. McRaven throughout his four-decade Navy SEAL career to lead and inspire himself and others. McRaven draws on his vast experiences including crisis situations, management debates, organizational transitions, and ethical dilemmas, to provide readers with the most important leadership lessons he has learned over the course of his forty years of service.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

Bull Frog is nickname for the longest serving Navy SEAL (“frogman”), in leadership “everything in war is simple, but the simple things are difficult” (quote of 19th C General Carl von Clausewitz, military uses creeds/slogans/parables etc to be able to remember when in toughest environments and highest pressure, want to be able to lean on these memorable phrases to guide action intuitively, “honor” is paramount–means behave honestly and with integrity no matter the circumstances or situation at hand, be honorable because representing yourself and your organization/company/community, if a person leads without honor the employees/those under the leader will lack it as well, “when in command, command”–leaders must be decisive for their team’s sake, show confidence, cannot have bad days, team will follow and trust as you demonstrate ability to make decisions and lead, understand that through a career you will be asked to do menial tasks “below your rank” but be willing and take pride, showing can do the small tasks with pride sets stage for big tasks to come, “the only easy day was yesterday”—SEAL creed to remember each day required full effort and do not coast/look past, attack each day with enthusiasm and energy and tasks as if all are critical, never “have nothing left to prove” as a leader, leaders ought to be aggressive and direct in facing problems—go to the source and be present, even if gives impression of involvement in the original problem—a leader cannot he passive, a culture of action by own initiative at all levels is essential—mistakes will be made but such a culture is far superior to one of inaction and fear to act, “Who Dares Wins”—about being willing to take risk and be decisive, but daring does not mean reckless—planning and prep is essential, lead up to bin laden raid was months upon months of most intense planning with still only 50% certainty of success when Obama gave go ahead, being bold/decisive and extreme in preparation is what leaders do, “hope is not a strategy”—combine hope and inspiration with clear plan and what is to be done and how it will happen and who is responsible for each aspect, leaders should share in the hardship and camaraderie with those under them—show then willing to work but also human as well, be engaged in little problems—talk to all team members, don’t be so far removed from the ground, communicate of intent and plan to all rank and file is key for leaders to maintain organization and morale, “when in doubt, overload”—always give more effort, get up ealier, etc then will be ready, McRaven even got fired from assignment once early in SEAL days but recovered by overloading in all subsequent opportunities, General Billy Mitchell “Father of the Air Force”—1925 advocated for importance of standalone air fighting force to win coming war but all generals essentially against him and court martialed him but Mitchell never waver, history stood with him as ww2 became air war (just took 15-20 to prove those like FDR were wrong to say no in 1925 to air force idea), every leader needs a “swim buddy”—someone can trust implicitly and lean on as for checks, criticism, support, etc, leading is not a solo venture, being humble and confident are not mutually exclusive and are both essential to lead, good character and competence build trust (not one without the other), take bold risk but prepare with excrutiating detail and consideration for contigencies, remain in communication with those beneath, moral legal and ethical lines must be followed for every leader and be clear across all decision—hold highest your integrity, stay steady and consistent in maximizing effort everyday in all tasks and progress follows

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Welcome to JeffReads, where I share summaries of the best books I’ve read on business, politics, science, technology and more.




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