Podcast of the Week: The Personal Psychology Field Manual for Soldiers in WWII

Jocko Willink read and interpreted Psychology for the Fighting Man over the course of three podcast episodes (start here). The book was the field manual printed and distributed to US soldiers in the 1940s to understand themselves and their peers before, during and after conflict. Its plain language and direct commentary make it applicable to anyone operating in a high-pressure/high-stakes profession. It’s simplicity also means it reads well today too. Physical copies of the book aren’t easy to find and there is no audio version, making Jocko’s reading one of the easiest ways to access this material (FYI he does cover/read from the entire book). Plus, and perhaps it’s the best part, we get his highlights and commentary. I’m a huge fan of him reviewing books this way.

Some highlights from my notes:

Courage isn’t issued like guns, it has to be cultivated internally.

Leaders have to understand the uses of propaganda and how to tell a story.

Not only does morale make soldiers work and fight, working and fighting keeps up their morale.

When stuff gets bad – give directions. The before and after is where the trouble is. Get and keep people “doing” things.

Make sure everything aligns with the mission.

Only people of extraordinary character will take the blame (i.e. extreme ownership).

The quality of leadership is the greatest determinant of morale and performance.