With rifle and bibliography: General Mattis on professional reading

This is a brilliant exhortation from a general who emphasises on reading (and learning from the experiences). One thing I genuinely miss from my residency is the exposure to broader set of reading texts; the history of progress, for example. The general text is so dry that it would be difficult to marvel at the epochal “a-ha” moments in radiation oncology as a discipline and the famous “fractionation debates”. We base our ideas on what the elder colleagues have professed, practised and refined over the years.

By this I mean that one mustfirst accept that a significant body of intellectual material sustains his actions and opinions –as is indicated in the messages, he devotes real effort to this aspect of his work. So, there is a base of knowledge that is always growing. On top of that are the benefits which accrue to thosewho think and critically engage with such material. Furthermore, there is his consideration of
the views of others – as in the breadth of his reading or response to my comments – suggesting that he had not fallen prey to the hubris of the powerful, which is to believe they have all of the answers. Good leaders don’t only hear “yes” from the people around them. Thus, the insight these words give to his thinking and interests is invaluable.

There’s another very interesting bit here and merits representation:

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally, a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.
Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.

I will recommend a complete reading of the interesting exchange of emails.

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