True Growth - The Natural Choice in Leader Development
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A Lifetime of Learning

Lawson Magruder

November 2014

A couple of months ago a very special friend of mine and "Army Brother" for the past 42 years had quite an achievement earning his PhD in Philosophy from Johns Hopkins University at the age of 64. What made this achievement even more notable is that he did not serve in academia for the vast majority of his life rather spent over 37 years in the service to our Nation in the most challenging positions to include Division and Corps command. He was an infantryman in peacetime and in war. Lieutenant General (Retired) Jim Dubik was an Airborne, Ranger, light infantryman who commanded US forces in Haiti, Bosnia, and Iraq. He had a reputation as a "thought leader" and extraordinary trainer, tactician and strategist throughout the military. He continues to this day writing essays that are thought provoking and receive the widest dissemination in various periodicals nationally and worldwide.

Jim's creative expression and generation of ideas on a wide variety of topics does not surprise me. I saw it coming when he was a young officer in my company of paratroopers over four decades ago and have greatly admired him through the years as he continued his thirst for knowledge and desire to continuously mature as a writer and lifetime learner. Some personal observations of Jim through the years may be instructive to those of us who want to become constant learners:

  • Jim's formative years in a Catholic High School and a year in a Seminary, instilled in him a very disciplined need for daily solitude, reading and self-reflection that was rare for a young military leader. This discipline continues to this day with his best writing done before dawn in the quiet confines of his home.
  • Jim has always been a voracious reader of a wide variety of books and articles. From when I first met him, he always highlighted and wrote notes in the margins of his books. His personal library has hundreds of books in it and whenever I visit, I marvel that I can pull any book from the shelf and read in it his handwritten notes from decades ago. Needless to say, he always truly read every book he acquired- not skimmed through it- and made it stick by keeping notes in the book. When he drafts an essay concerning a challenging topic faced by our Nation's leaders today, he goes no further than his own personal library and vast experience to solidify his theme and his key points. When it came time to write his dissertation titled "Waging War: Filling the Gap in Just War Theory", he merely drew upon his own experiences and his own reference library.
  • Jim has always wanted to share his views and learning with others. He swung away as a writer at a very young age, having articles published in various periodicals like Newsweek and various military publications. He has always loved to share and spur constructive dialogue on the most challenging topic of the day. With the advent of blogs and on-line forums, his ideas rapidly get the widest dissemination. This has been particularly important with the challenges our Nation and the world face with the rise of radical Islamic terrorist groups.
  • You would think that with Jim's intense thirst for knowledge that he never achieved work-life balance in his life but this was not the case. He was able to balance his life between his profession, family and self. His self-discipline allowed him to focus his full energy on each element of his life. When he was reading and writing and fueling his personal value of Learning, he was fully there. The same can be said about his focus on his profession and family. When he was in his unit and with his beautiful family, he was fully there with no distractions. He truly lived the most energy efficient life of any leader I know and it all came from his self-discipline and tremendous will power.
May we all strive to want to be a constant learner like my friend Jim Dubik. May we seek to gain balance in our lives as Jim has through self- discipline and an energy efficient approach to all our endeavors.

I hope we all agree in the words of the great golfer Ben Hogan that: "True enjoyment comes from constantly learning"

True Growth Takeaway: True knowledge comes from personal experiences and constant learning through disciplined reading and study.

True Growth Journaling Questions: Are you considered a constant learner by others? If not, what can you do right now to improve your knowledge to benefit yourself, your family and others you lead?

About the author: Lawson Magruder is a retired Army Lieutenant General, member of the US Army Ranger Hall of Fame, founder and principal owner of LWM III Consulting, and married for over 45 years to his beloved Gloria. They have three children and four beautiful grandchildren. 

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