This is going to sound like one of the most conflicted reviews you will probably ever read. I loved this book. I hated reading it. I love that I read it and I recommend it to anyone. It made me question and evaluate myself and brought on such self reflection; I put it down a few times and didn’t come back for a while. But it’s fantastic.
First, a little back story on how I came to this book: In October of this year, my fiancé and I had the opportunity of a lifetime to go to Hawaii. On our flight to Honolulu, we were seated next to a gentleman with some noticeable facial injuries. We noticed it, but with me in law enforcement and her in the medical field, we’d seen stuff like this before. As the flight took off, this gentleman opened his laptop. I’ll admit curiosity got the best of me and I looked over. I saw he appeared to be working on a presentation about “Overcoming.” I whispered to my fiancé, “I think he’s a motivational speaker.” In the previous few months, I had read so many books on leadership, command, and decision making, I was already enthralled. I still had no clue who he was, but I was dying to know. When my fiancé left her seat for a few minutes, he stood up and reached into the overhead bin. That’s when I saw it. The Navy SEAL Trident on his belt buckle. When she came back, I whispered again, “I think he’s a Navy SEAL!” Let me explain my excitement: I tried enlisting in the Air Force, the Marines and the Army when I was in high school and college. I was medically disqualified and never got the chance to serve. I have the utmost respect for those that did and I have to admit, I’m kind of awestruck by people who have done such amazing things in such faraway places.
After we’d been in there air for several hours, and he had gotten up to stretch, he came back to the seat and struck up a conversation. He introduced himself as Jason Redman. In the ensuing conversation, I was amazed at how soft-spoken, humble, and genuine he seemed. Having never met a SEAL before, this small town cop wasn’t sure what I expected. This wasn’t it. I felt like I was talking to a Genie. I had a million questions, but I knew I probably only had about three before I reached a limit. Believe me when I say, in retrospect, I asked the stupidest questions. Knowing what I know now about the author, I wish I’d asked a dozen OTHER questions. He told us he’d been injured in Iraq. He told us he’d written a book. His demeanor was so impressive; I knew immediately I’d buy it. But then he told me there was a DIFFERENT book I should read. That’s where I got the recommendation for Fearless about Adam Brown, which I have previously written about.
Now, THE TRIDENT. Jason Redman was one of America’s finest warriors. He had joined the Navy, became a Navy SEAL, and fought in intense combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. There’s no spoiler in telling you he was shot in the face and seriously wounded. He describes this wound, and the immediate aftermath in such descriptive detail, it might be the closest description you’ll ever hear about what it’s like to die. But Jason “Red” Redman lived. He survived. He thrived. His story of recovery is one of inspiration. It’s motivating. If a man can overcome taking machine gun fire to the face, why do we struggle to overcome our daily obstacles?
What appealed to me most about this book was Jason’s personal journey that brought him to the night of his injury. His immaturity, his arrogance, and his unpredictable ways almost cost him his place in the SEALs. In no way do I compare myself or my accomplishments to Mr. Redman or his accomplishments, but I related to every flaw he brought up. Making rash decisions and lashing out when criticized, becoming defensive when anyone questioned him, pulling stunts that he thought would earn him the respect of his teammates but actually bringing the opposite result, THOSE I could relate to. Mr. Redman’s journey from disgrace to reviving his career and eventually excelling and earning the respect of his teammates was my big take-away from this book. Several times while reading this book, I was uncomfortable. I saw a lot of my own attitude and previous mistakes. I even saw some of what I am STILL doing wrong. I think what took me so long to finish the book was my reluctance to accept some of my own flaws. It took me weeks to read the first 200 pages and then, when it all clicked, only 2 days to finish the remaining 200 or so pages. In the Epilogue, Mr. Redman talks about what he does now. He travels the country giving talks about the hard lessons he learned about his own mistakes and immaturity and gives lessons on leadership, communication, teamwork, and overcoming adversity. He will use his story as a “cautionary tale.” Mr. Redman says, “I wish somebody had shared those lessons with me when I was younger. Maybe my road would have been easier.” As a 32 year old man, these lessons are nothing new to me. I’ve heard these tales from people who have never seemed to struggle with some of these issues. To read a first-hand account, from a man who had every reason to be arrogant and cocky, yet in person seemed so incredibly humble, a man who could pinpoint in his career when he battled all of these, and then came out a stronger man, a man who has overcome more in the last 10 years than I will overcome in my lifetime, this has been a redefining book for me. I hope to hear him speak some day. He mentioned on the plane he might put out another book. I’ll probably pre-order it.
This will be a book I buy more copies of. I think some of the lessons in this book would be good for guys who started much like I did: Twenty-two years old and way too cocky. I wish I’d had this guidance then. Maybe I did, somewhere, and wasn’t receptive to it. I think this book really encapsulates everything I wish I’d known. If you find yourself in a leadership position, and you see somebody starting to throw a career away with foolishness, get them this book. If you are unhappy with where you are in your career, get yourself this book.
“You can’t change the past but you control your future as long as you’re willing to.” J. Redman