This one will be out of order, but I figured why not release it out of order. It fits the mold of the topic of this discussion.
I had planned to discuss Brotherly Love and Relief before I discussed “Truth”, one of our fundamental tenets and principles. However, as the boxing legend Mike Tyson is quoted as saying, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
The book I would like to highlight for your contemplation for those moments in life when your plans go off course due to being proverbially punched in the mouth is “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink.
Jocko Willink is a retired Navy Seal who has written a book detailing some of the leadership skills he developed during his experiences leading his team into combat missions in Afghanistan. In his book the author writes about what he calls “extreme ownership” wherein leaders must take full responsibility for their actions (or inactions) and he further describes his beliefs on establishing effective outcomes with teamwork and discipline.
Jocko opens his narrative recounting a combat situation where he was caught off guard and led his team into what appeared to be an ambush. The fog of war caused havoc amongst his men, causing troops under his command to be wounded and worse yet causing some of his troops to lose their lives. As he recounts the story of how his team suffered losses, he explains, at the end of the day he was ultimately in charge and therefore responsible. He could have placed the blame on his surroundings, his mission briefing or any other number of items. However, as all military personnel or members of any sports organization know, no single plan ever survives contact with the enemy. My brief description here does not do any justice to the actual story. If you cannot read this book, please take the time to search the Jocko Willink Ted Talk on “Extreme Ownership”.
As Masons, “the enemy” is the day-to-day distractions which prevent us from pursuing our goals and the ever pressing “Why” of self-improvement. Life is full of distractions, flashing lights and the ever-present time vampire we all carry in our pockets known as a cellular phone. Masonry teaches us to “Know Thyself” and to “accomplish our allotted tasks while it is still yet day”. In one of the concordant bodies there is a piece of work which discusses the idea that a Mason, who is aware of who they are, and spends his time wisely can accomplish more in ten years, well spent, than an undisciplined person can in 40 years of our adult life.
The hard truth with this knowledge, which is presented to us in our Lodges, is that we must take “extreme ownership” of our daily lives. We may have the love of our Brethren, as well as their support. But in the end, we must take absolute ownership of the tasks we wish to accomplish. Lodge reflects this belief in its most deep and simple statement taken, once more, from the Charge to the Newly Initiated Candidate. “And to yourself, by such a prudent and well-regulated course of discipline as may best conduce the preservation of your corporeal and mental faculties in their fullest energies; thereby enabling you to exert those talents wherewith God has blessed you, as well as to His glory as to the welfare of your fellow creatures.”
As I have traveled these past few months, I have seen many, many Masons who are in pursuit of their goals. Whether those goals are personal, business, or Lodge related is inconsequential. These inspired Brethren are following the Working Tools as laid out in the First Degree. They are trying to improve themselves. Success is all but certain for them as they continue their work.
I am continually impressed and encouraged by the hard work, the dedication, and the indefatigable effort that I continue to see the Brethren putting into the Craft, into their homes, and into their lives.
Please, Continue the Work!
P.S. Please send emails to the Grand Secretary to invite either me or members of the Grand Line to attend your meetings. We are more than happy to make those visits. It is a personal goal of mine to try to visit each lodge this year. I have also included a list of previous book titles for your future reference below. All these books will reflect more than one Masonic topic, but I have picked them based on my personal thoughts and ideas. This list will be included in all future musings.
MW Bro. Jonas Cossette, Grand Master, 2023-24