- Posted by Cody Maltias
- On May 18, 2017
- 0 Comments
The right words, from the right person, at the right time can change a life. Reading has always been a huge part of how I learn, and there are two quotes that drive my thinking.
“Right book at the Right Time” – from then Major Dan Canfield USMC
“If someone asks me to borrow a book I tell them I would rather just buy them a copy.” Eamonn Madden
I will attempt to provide some context behind each.
As an eighteen year old freshman at NC State I was attempting to learn as much about the military as possible in order to prepare myself to earn my commission in the Marine Corps. Major Canfield was the Officer in Charge of the ROTC unit at NC State and he was an incredible wealth of knowledge. I had never been around someone as well read as he was, and he constantly pushed us to deepen our own knowledge. The Marine Corps has 12 leadership traits they seek to instill, but Major Canfield had a clear favorite. He pushed us to increase our Knowledge, and he theorized that all the other traits without the knowledge were worthless. You would simply be someone “faking the funk”.
The Marine Corps has a reading list dictated by the Commandant. This list was the inspiration for the Elevate Reading List. If someone reading was good I decided more reading was better. I wanted to read every book on the list (at this point I didn’t know it was updated and altered annually). I figured the 2nd Lt reading list was a bare minimum. Why not go beyond this? Reading everything that the Marines I would be leading were supposed to read would ensure greater understanding and shared language. Reading the list for those above me would give me wisdom beyond my years, and so my mind was made up.
I typically met with Major Canfield at the beginning and end of the semester. I had been exhaustively and was ready to receive some praise for all my work. There is a book by Carl von Clausewitz a Prussian Military Officer called ‘On War’ that was considered a master work. It was on the Major’s reading list and I had seen it referenced in many of the books I was reading. I had it reserved at the NC State library. When Major Canfield asked me about my own reading I proudly listed off the books I had read and told him ‘On War’ was next on my list. He stopped me and told me to slow down. “Education is all about the right book at the right time, you can push yourself to read something but if you aren’t ready to absorb those lessons then you are not getting what you need from the book”. That lesson has stuck with me since that day. I went back to reading as a pursuit of what I was passionate about and making sure the books gave me something actionable. When I am reading and struggling with a book I assume it is not the right time, put it down, and come back to it later.
Eamonn Madden is a black belt is both BJJ and Judo who works as a performance coach. He and I initially started working together to increase my mental performance, but became close friends over the years. Books have been a shared language for us since the beginning. When I first reached out to Eamonn I received an assignment: to read ‘Fighter’s Mind’ by Sam Sheridan, ‘Sports Hypnosis’ by Donald Liggett, and ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill. These books and many others over the years have been recommended back and forth as we both try to fuel future growth.
Eamonn is brilliant at providing the right advice in the moment, and it is one of his gifts. One day I was bemoaning not receiving books back that I loan out and he gave advice that completely changed my perspective. “When people ask me to borrow a book I simply offer to buy it for them”. By taking this tactic his books were always available to be referenced in the future and he never lost his notes that he took in them. Books are some of the cheapest forms of education. Typically they cost between $5-$25 dollars. What a small investment for something that can light the path. You get the added benefit that books are a cheap gift that can link you further with someone forever. If they enjoy the book it will only deepen whatever relationship you have with them.
So now I focus on finding the right books and keeping them. Giving books often, and constantly trying to share and apply what I read. I am forever thankful to both Major Canfield and Eammon for helping to light the way.
USMC Commandant’s Reading List
USMC Leadership Traits
Elevate Year 1 Reading List
Elevate Year 2 Updated Reading List