There is a seal on the back of this book that reads “Get Warrior Tough.” Andrew Wittman’s background makes it obvious that he should know what he is talking about. Wittman is a Marine Corps infantry combat veteran, a former police officer, and a federal agent. He has also been a security contractor for the State Department and has taught high-threat diplomatic security to former Navy SEALs, Marines, Rangers and Special Forces. He has worked security for many high-level politicians and celebrities. He has a Ph.D. in theological studies and co-hosts a national call-in show called “Get Warrior Tough.” Wittman calls himself a Mind Toughness Coach.
The book, however, is not only for business people as the title might indicate. This is a comprehensive mental health house-cleaning book that anyone can benefit from. Then again, Ground Zero is not your run-of-the-mill, pie-in-the-sky, happy talk. Wittman could corner the market at being down to earth. The quotations selected are worth the price of admission alone.
Although I have to take Wittman with a grain of salt when he tries to convince us that we are all geniuses, his take that actually being a complete perfectionist is self-defeating makes perfect sense. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. As Wittman states: “I’ve learned that being a perfectionist is a bad thing. I get the whole OCD thing (I’ve got the OCD thing), but pursuing perfection i.e., excellence is a really good thing. Pursuing perfection should not be confused with being a perfectionist. Pursuing perfection is aiming for the center of the target. In fact, if you do not aim for the bull’s-eye of the target, you have almost no chance of hitting it (and zero chance of hitting it consistently).”
He believes we should still give ourselves credit when we don’t succeed. As he states, even when we lose or fail at a task, it is still worthwhile because we have learned something. The fact that he learned from Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel that only we can control our attitude is a nugget of golden Zen. Only we can decide what kind of information is sieving through our brain. Wittman goes on to make two lists: thoughts that are harmful and self-defeating that should be “red flagged,” and good thoughts which we should dwell upon on. Ponder this quotation: “Negative thoughts with negative expectations actually shut down certain brain pathways that limit and restrict the processing of information that could bring about a positive solution to the problem you are worrying about.” I have to apologize to Wittman if I pull the beard off Santa Claus by stating the most important thing you will learn from “Ground Zero” is to separate emotional decision making—which is not very productive, even detrimental—from logical decision making. Once you learn to distinguish between the two and concentrate on logical decision making, the difference is like night and day.
Wittman says that the mindset that we should strive for is that of the elite warrior: “The elite warrior makes up less than 1 percent of the population worldwide. The elite warrior plays to win and is a class act, operating from a belief that, ‘I’m the problem and I’m the solution.’ The elite warrior knows if he or she has a problem, that he or she is the problem. But the good news is he or she is the solution to that problem, and every problem.” Although some of Wittman’s advice may seem like common sense, you would be surprised how something fairly obvious is an epiphany when he points it out. For instance, how many times do we pay attention to negative people? Do you shut these anchor draggers out, or do you go along to get along? I have to admit that I usually give self-help books a wide berth; I can count the number of them I recommend on one hand. When I say that “Ground Zero Leadership” is required reading, you can take it to the bank.
Andrew Wittman’s book “Ground Zero Leadership: CEO of You” is available through his website, www.andrew-wittman.com.