Book Review: Character Carved In Stone: The 12 Core Virtues of West Point That Build Leaders and Produce Success, by Pat Williams with Jim Denney
If you enjoy military history and if you appreciate books on the character qualities of leaders, then you need to read Pat Williams latest book, Character Carved In Stone: The 12 Core Virtues of West Point That Build Leaders and Produce Success. As the title suggests, the book expounds on the twelve virtues of character that the United States Military Academy seeks to instill in their cadets.
As the author explains in the introduction, there are twelve stone benches at Trophy Point overlooking the Hudson River on the campus of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Each bench is inscribed with a word representing a key leadership virtue: compassion, courage, dedication, determination, dignity, discipline, integrity, loyalty, perseverance, responsibility, service, and trust.
I believe these twelve virtues are crucial to leadership and success in this or any era. If you exemplify these twelve character traits, you will be a leader, because you will stand head and shoulders above most of your peers as a person worthy of being followed and emulated. If you exemplify these twelve qualities, you will be a success in any endeavor you put your mind to, because no one who is a role model of these qualities could ever be considered a failure. Wherever you lead, these twelve virtues will magnify your influence and propel you toward great service, great goals, great achievements, and great distinction.
To flesh out these twelve virtues, Williams profiles the men and women who have graduated from West Point, from the Civil War era to the War on Terror.
- Ulysses S. Grant embodied compassion.
- Alexander “Sandy” Ramsy Nininger Jr. demonstrated courage.
- Buzz Aldrin, Ed White, Michael Collins, and Frank Borman—four astronauts from West Point—showed dedication.
- Maggie Dixon, who coached the women’s basketball team for one year prior to her death exhibited determination, along with H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
- John J. “Black Jack” Pershing embodied dignity.
- Sylvanus Thayer, who helped reform West Point as its Superintendent, showed discipline.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower was a man of integrity.
- Matthew Bunker Ridgway demonstrated great loyalty.
- Perseverance was demonstrated by the lives and deaths of a number of women and men.
- Mike Krzyzewski and Douglas MacArthur showed what responsibility looks like.
- David Moniac, the first Native American to graduate from the Academy, demonstrated service.
- Omar Bradley exhibited the quality of trust.
- The book closes with Peter Wang, who showed true heroism as a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) member when he was gunned down while saving the lives of fellow classmates during a school shoot in 2018.
In addition to the profiles, the author includes numerous suggestions and practical ideas as to how to build the character qualities into your life. The book is encouraging, uplifting, and challenging. Well worth adding to your leadership library.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.