Stanley McChrystal (@stanmcchrystal) retired from the U.S. Army as a four-star general after more than 34 years of service. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates described McChrystal as “perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat I ever met.”
From 2003 to 2008, McChrystal served as Commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), where he was credited with the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
His last assignment was as the commander of all American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. He is a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the co-founder of McChrystal Group, a leadership consulting firm.
In this episode, we discuss everything imaginable, including:
– Why he only eats one meal per day, and what he eats
– His exact exercise regimen
– Tactical and psychological lessons of combat
– Self-talk used before and after difficult missions
– The development of mental toughness
– Favorite books, documentaries, etc.
– And much, much more
Chris Fussell (@FussellChris), who also joins the conversation, is a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, former Aide-de-Camp for General McChrystal, and a current senior executive at CrossLead.
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: In your opinion, what makes a good leader, and who exemplifies those qualities? Please share in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Please say hello to the guests on Twitter – @StanMcChrystal and @FussellChris
- Team of Teams – Stan and Chris’s New York Times bestseller
- Read the article 10,000 Hours with Reid Hoffman by Ben Casnocha
- Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
- Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer
- Mental Toughness Training for Sports by James Loehr
- Do you know the Naval officer who championed the development of aircraft carriers between WWI and WWII? Please let me know in the comments. I’m fairly certain that Stan is referencing Rear Admiral William Moffett, but can anyone confirm?
- Steve Jobs, The Innovators and Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson
- Learn more about The War Room, a documentary about Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign
- Learn more about the McChrystal Group and Team of Teams:
- Why eat one meal per day? [5:36]
- Understanding SOCOM and JSOC [9:21]
- On the role of an aide-de-camp (ADC) [13:21]
- How Chris Fussell reduced friction as Stanley McChrystal’s ADC [15:46]
- Stanley McChrystal’s daily exercise habits and why they’re important [19:36]
- Most gifted books for those entering combat situations [28:21]
- On West Point: Slugs and Area Tours [31:01]
- On mischief in school and success in the Army [34:11]
- How peer reviews worked at West Point [35:11]
- On vetting applicants for important positions [38:11]
- Stanley McChrystal’s selection criteria for candidates [47:11]
- Why Chris Fussell left the service early and defining “intelligence fusion cells” [53:21]
- The most underrated military leaders? [57:36]
- Fanatical audiobook listening habits and book selection [59:36]
- Why Stanley McChrystal personally attended battlefield operations [1:06:21]
- Hopeless dilemmas and managing self-talk in high-pressure environments [1:14:31]
- Who comes to mind when Chris Fussell thinks of “successful”? [1:20:21]
- Common organizational misperceptions between civilians and military personnel [1:24:21]
- Meditation practices [1:29:11]
- The “Red Team” concept in the military [1:31:11]
- What are good ways for the average citizens to practice military strategy? Games? Activities? [1:36:06]
- Stanley McChrystal on chess vs. backgammon and the complexities of modern day leadership [1:38:51]
- What surprised Stanley McChrystal about Yale University [1:41:21]
- The story behind Team of Teams and modern leadership challenges [1:44:01]
- Stanley McChrystal’s advice to his thirty-year old self [1:55:06]
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