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BY Joel Junker

Book Recommendations for JMOs, Cameron-Brooks’ Candidates and Alum

I recently returned from vacation and read several insightful books.  I would like to share them with those Junior Military Officers (JMOs) and Cameron-Brooks Alumni who regularly visit our blog for self-development.  If you have other book recommendations, please e-mail me or post your comments here.  I am always looking for good book recommendations.

1.  Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  This is at the top of the business best seller list and for a good reason.  I highly recommend this book and self-assessment to understand your top 5 strengths and how you can capitalize on them.  Cameron-Brooks and our clients believe in the value of thorough self-analysis and understanding your strengths and weaknesses.  This book and its associated self-analysis test outline your strengths and also a game plan to improve and strengthen yourself based on them.  This book will soon make the Cameron-Brooks Required Reading List.

2.  Wooden:  A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court by John Wooden with Steve Jamison.  This past June, I read an article about legendary basketball coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.  Coach Wooden is best known for leading UCLA to 10 NCAA Basketball National Championships and 7 of them in a row.  What most people do not know, however, is that it took Coach Wooden 14 years at UCLA to win his first National Championship and he coached the Bruins for 27 years.  Quick math – his first 14 years, zero National Championships, and in his last 13 years, 10 of them.  Yet, Wooden defines success this way:  “Success is a peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”  He goes on to say his dad taught him, “1.  Don’t try to be better than someone else, and 2.  Always try to be the best you can be.”  Both these quotes are actually from Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success:  Building Blocks for a Better Life.  Through these quotes, Wooden makes the point that he achieved as much if not more success during those first 14 years as he did in those last 13 years.  He has a different definition of success.  Additionally, Coach Wooden put a lot of emphasis on preparation, and focusing on the process and results would eventually take care of itself.

3.  Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy.  Another book on personal and professional lessons from a sports leader.  Coach Dungy led the Indianapolis Colts to the 2007 Super Bowl and won that Super Bowl defeating the Chicago Bears.  Throughout his life, he has endured numerous professional and personal setbacks and challenges, some of them quite painful.  I like his calm, pragmatic and faith-filled approach.  I also feel he exudes the type of leadership style that demonstrates respect for every individual.

4.  War by Sebastian Junger.  I have the privilege of meeting and speaking with Junior Military Officers (JMOs) every day.  The majority of these JMOs have deployed numerous times to Iraq and/or Afghanistan.  I wanted to read a book that would help me better understand some of their combat experiences.  I am sure there are many other good books on this subject, and I look forward to getting recommendations.  I did enjoy Junger’s book on a platoon’s rotation to one of the most difficult areas of Afghanistan.  This book isn’t so much for our JMOs to read, but for our Alumni or clients who want to know more.

5.  Prisoners of Our Thoughts by Alex Pattakos.  Work can be tough at times, and that’s why we call it “work.”  Yet, it is critical that we find meaning in our work because, statistically, we spend 75% of our waking hours at work.  This book is based on Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, and provides seven principles for finding meaning in work and life.  This book completely changed my “thoughts” on how I view and approach my work.

I look forward to any of you who read this post and have other book recommendations and feedback for me.


Joel Junker