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The Leadership Dojo
Build Your Foundation as an Exemplary Leader

by Richard Strozzi-Heckler

In 1985, Richard Strozzi-Heckler conducted an experimental and unprecedented training for the United States Army. The training, intended to create a "holistic soldier," involved twenty-five Green Berets and included martial arts, stress reduction techniques, healing arts, as well as communication and team building skills training. While the soldiers' already impressive abilities improved drastically in such areas as fitness, mental alertness, and moral integrity, the unexpected side effect of Strozzi-Heckler's training was a dramatic improvement in leadership skills. The project, originally undertaken to improve performance, soon became known as a "leadership program."

Seeking to understand why this warrior training produced not only better soldiers but better leaders, Strozzi-Heckler's research led him to the realization that leadership can be learned. This revelation flew in the face of the general belief that one is either born with the ability to lead or one is not. In Leadership Dojo, the author contends that leadership is a "skill and art that can be developed through commitment and practice."

Take note of those two words commitment and practice. Leadership Dojo does not provide a handful of tricks or a promise that you, too, can be a great leader in three easy steps. This slim volume is a full-bodied examination of mind, body, and spirit training that requires the full and conscious participation of the reader.

Chapter headings tell us "We Are All Leaders" and "You Are What You Practice", along with vaguely familiar come-ons such as "Place of Awakening" and "Cultivation of Self". In another context, these would be little more than feel-good invitations to register for a weekend conference. Leadership Dojo, however, delivers! Practices are clearly spelled out, and address all aspects of personality by providing emotional, intellectual and physical exercises.

Punctuated with anecdotes that describe the experiences and results of this program, the greatest strength of Leadership Dojo is its clear and persistent reminder of the need for practice. This is not a book to be skimmed nor a program to ponder in spare moments. It does not teach how to act like a leader but rather how to be a leader. To attain leadership skills, one must be fully engaged -mentally, physically, and spiritually- in the practices. The author refers to a sign in his office, an example of found wisdom, that reads: You must be present to win. Exactly so, and being present with Leadership Dojo is highly recommended.

The Book

North Atlantic Books / Frog, Ltd.
September 4, 2007
Hard Cover
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The Reviewer

Deborah Adams
Reviewed 2007
NOTE: Reviewer Deborah Adams is the Flair and Macavity Award winning author of the Jesus Creek Mystery Series: All The Great Pretenders, All The Crazy Winters, All The Dark Disguises, All The Hungry Mothers, All The Deadly Beloved, All The Blood Relations, and All The Dirty Cowards. She was also an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel.
© 2007