The best leaders can communicate upsets with their team and then move on. It is important to support and mentor those who do not see themselves as leaders yet by being accountable and honest through word and action.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jone’s (@authorBPJones) faith and fortitude brought him into a life of service both in and out of the military. His recent book Treading the Deep is a memoir/guidebook on discovering one’s path as a servant leader.
With his unstoppable faith, Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones has the ability to communicate the hows and whats of making great leaders that will form and shape the future of the US military. His attitude and teaching encourage and inspire the notion that no matter what the circumstance, we can all find meaning and vision.“ I would talk to my leaders about that, like, look, the doors can open rapidly, and you need to be ready to step through.”
– Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones
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Master Command Sergeant Bradley Jones LinkedIn
Mark Divine 0:00
This is Mark Divine, and this is the Mark Divine Show. On the show, I explore what it means to be fearless through the lens of the world’s most compassionate, resilient, and inspirational leaders. Folks from all walks of life, Stoic philosophers, psychedelic researchers, elite entrepreneurs, and military leaders such as my guest today, Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones. Today we’re going to meet Bradley talk about his new book Treading the Deep, which he recently published, giving his perspective as an enlisted soldier heading up to the highest rank as Command Sergeant Major. It’s very funny and insightful book on leadership. I think you’ll enjoy it. Bradley Jones enlisted in the Army in 1984 and was on active duty for a number of years. Then, after doing some missionary service and college got back into the National Guard and served for the rest of his career. Winning a number of awards, serving in combat in Afghanistan, bronze star meritorious service medal, Army commendation medal, three OakLeaf three times, Army Chief medal of good conduct, Armed Forces reserve metal, Afghanistan Campaign, G watt Service Medal, etc., etc. goes on and on. Bradley now works for the FAA and resides in Lehi, Utah. Welcome to the show, Sergeant Major Bradley Jones. And it’s okay if I call you Brad, right?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 1:15
Absolutely. Absolutely. I still have soldiers that come up to me and still call me by my title. And I say, You know what, you get to call me Brad now.
Mark Divine 1:25
Now you can, yeah, that’s a mouthful. You know what I mean. I love the army, right? It’s like, even the Navy, like, you can get a little bit of a mouthful when you get up into those higher ranks, you know, because we have the Master Chief. And then of course, if your Command Master Chief, your Command Master Chief, but then you’re the Force Master Chief, and then much higher to go after that.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 1:43
Mark Divine 1:44
You can be you can go higher than Command Sergeant Major, and I guess probably be the, what are they called the Force Sergeant Major, what’s that called?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones1:50
Well, there’s a Sergeant Major of the Army. And once you make that rank, though, you only go up in in responsibility. Command Sergeant Major start out at the battalion level, and then they can go to brigade level. And then above, you know, division, that kind of thing. So…
Mark Divine 2:08
So, so to clarify for people that the actual rank is Sergeant Major, and the command designates kind of the operational level that you’re working at.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 2:16
It’s yeah, you’re it’s an appointed position. You’re paired up with a battalion brigade division commander.
Mark Divine 2:24
Right, you’re the right-hand person?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 2:27
Mark Divine 2:27
The guy who runs the day-to-day to the ops and on the enlisted folks.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 2:30
Yep. represent all the matters regarding the enlisted.
Mark Divine 2:34
Right. Oh, that’s awesome. So I want to get into your military career. And this this great book that you’ve recently penned. But let’s tell talk a little bit about yourself. Like, where are you from? Are you from Utah, where you live now? And what were some of your formative influences growing up?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 2:47
No, I was born in Oregon, born in Nashville, Oregon, and moved up to Portland. And that’s where I grew up and graduated from high school on Clackamas Oregon. And I had a best friend that was, had already joined the military. And I was hanging out with him one day in the summer after we graduated, and he said, Hey, I need to stop by the recruiting office. And so I was just happened to be with him and went in. And, of course, recruiters being recruiters, they
Mark Divine 3:16
Guess what they recruited you.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 3:17
What are your plans? So that’s how it all began.
Mark Divine 3:23
That’s awesome. I wonder if your friend had an ulterior motive there.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 3:27
He may have, it’s a it’s a really cool because he actually lives south of me now. In Price, Utah. He’s down there taking care of his uncle. And so we get to get together probably once a month and have dinner and talk old times and stuff. So it’s, it’s kind of neat.
Mark Divine 3:46
That is neat. Okay, so again, you went into the military pretty early. What was the childhood like up to that point? Like, were you an athlete? What were parents like? What were some of your kind of shaping influences?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 3:57
Well, I came from divorced parents and was just a pretty regular kid. Huge into skateboarding when I was younger, you know, into the whole skateboarding scene in the 70s, Tony Alba, Stacy Peralta, J. Adams, and the whole dog town scene that was, that was what I lived for.
Mark Divine 4:18
So, skateboarding was pretty big up in Oregon, too. I didn’t realize that.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 4:22
Well, it was in a different way because we had no skateboard parks, you know, during that time, so a lot of my Christmas presents, in those years, were to come down to California and go to skateboard parks in Southern California. So I was lucky enough to be able to do go to some of the, you know, more famous ones that you see in the magazines. That was kind of what I lived for. And then, you know, did okay, in school. I was an average student, played a lot of sports in my younger years, and then around high school, had a job, and got away from sports just so I could work on that kind of thing. So, but no real vision for, you know, what I what I wanted to do after high school. And so going to that recruiting office obviously was a huge turning point in my life, and just really set the direction for things for future things. So, in my book kind of lays all that out how that all came about.
Mark Divine 5:23
Right. Like me, you were in and out of active duty, so you didn’t do a full 20 active. So I did about 10, active, nine and a half active and about 10 and a half reserved. Most people don’t really understand, you know, how the reserves and the guard work. And it’d be fun to talk about that. But let’s first, what was your first active stint like, and what were some of the big lessons and challenges that you experienced there that people could glean some insights from?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 5:50
Well, you know, I, I joined to be a radar repairman and went to Fort Gordon, Georgia after basic and spent a year there in training, was only supposed to be 22 weeks, and turned into a year. They actually added an extra course, combined our My MOS with another course. And so we ended up kind of being the guinea pigs and staying there for a year. And then I got orders to go out to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and never heard of the base before and thought, okay, Arizona, you know, I wanted to go to Germany, and, you know, some of the more exotic places, but I went to Arizona, and got there and noticed that the building where my section was was nowhere near the airfield. And finally had asked somebody, you know, the guy that was helping me in process, hey, where are the radars? And he realized that, you know, that I hadn’t gotten gotten the word yet. And he said, Well, you’re not going to work on radars. And this…
Mark Divine 6:52
After a year of training, I got to love the military, right. There wisdom.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 6:56
So you know, that kind of that was a huge shock. And so, you know, one of the first instances were in my book, where I talk about sitting down with Jack, with Master Segeant and Jack crumbling, and, you know, he’s an E8, and I was an E3, and I went in and asked if I could talk to him and sat down at his desk and just said, you know, I spent a year in radar school. And now I’m being told I’m not going to work on radars. And, you know, that was a huge risk. And he could have very well just, you know, said, hey, you’re in the army, you know, shut up and deal with it and…
Mark Divine 7:35
Suck it up, buttercup, right?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 7:37
Yeah. And, but he didn’t, he said, well, let’s go down to the radar lab. And so we went down there and actually met the guy that I was told I was going to work for. And there were a bunch of soldiers down there with my same MOS. And they were all waiting to go somewhere else, because that whole airfield had been taken over by civilian contractor. And so I talked to that guy, that other E8, and he said, you know, you’re in a unique position, Master Sergeant Crumblings is a great guy, and he’ll take care of you and you sink your teeth into that job. And so, after we left the radar lab, Jack drove me around the base, and basically showed me this is what we do here. And I got to, I mean, we were testing night vision goggles and unmanned aerial vehicles were being tested. And then I ended up working on the project that was the genesis for GPS.
And so by the end of the tour, he was like, you know, so what do you think, and I’ve, I was absolutely blown away. And he, you know, basically says, so you’re on the team, and I was like, I’m on the team. So, you know, I did that job for three years, and we went to the contracting companies, were taught the maintenance for the systems that we would eventually test in the desert, and then the army would decide if they wanted to buy it. And so it was a very unique environment to work in, in the military and the experience there, and especially with how Jack handled me coming in and basically saying, like, I don’t want to be here. But you know, that really set the tone for the leader I became because I never forgot how Jack mentored me. And others there were others that that were influential, obviously. And…
Mark Divine 9:25
What what would you say? Like his as your first experience with an enlisted senior enlisted leader in the army, what were what were his top qualities that made him so effective and, and so likable and I guess, respected by you?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 9:39
Well, you know, one of the things that he did was he petitioned the army, the Department of the Army, because I had, you know, I came in at some point, we had a conversation and I told him like, I did the radar repair course, and then they added this extra course, and then combined it into a different MOS and when I took the, when my class took that course, that was considered they, they called it an an associated skill identifier, an ASI. And when when we took that course, that was a separate course, or previously, it was in a separate course. And it was worth promotion points. So, you know, Jack petitioned the army on his own, and, you know, got a letter from DA, and brought me in one day and said, you know, show me this letter and gave me all these extra promotion points. And he did that on his own, you know, I would have never thought I, I didn’t know the system like he did. But I would have never thought to even, you know, look into something like that he did his did that on his own. And, you know, that really, you know, that said something to me, I’ve never forgotten what he did for me that on his own, to take care of one of his soldiers.
Mark Divine 10:59
Yeah, that’s a classic servant leader who, you know, who’s, who’s looking out for the well being of his or her troops, without even them being aware of it or needing knowing that they need to be looked out for?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 11:12
Mark Divine 11:13
Like looking for opportunities to write people up for doing good things is another great example, that was pretty rare in the SEAL teams. But you know, when you came across an officer or a senior leader, who was looking for you doing good, man, you you had a special leader, because most people are kind of taught or enculturated to look for, you’re doing something wrong, right?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 11:33
Yeah, and, I mean, he did kick my butt when I needed it, you know, and there’s I write, I write a couple of about a couple of instances where he, you know, put me in my place. And, but the one good thing about him was, at one point, he said to me, and to a couple of us, look, I can get mad, and, you know, and I’ll, I’ll chew your ass. But when it’s all over with, I don’t hold on to it. And I remember thinking, you know, at the time, like, that was I, that was kind of unheard of, you know, that a leader, you know, can get upset, put you in your place, or, you know, reiterate the expectation. And then after that he go back to being the way he was before. And that said a lot to me at the time. And I thought back many of you know, over the years, many times on, on those, you know, very important early lessons that I learned from him.
Mark Divine 12:33
Yeah, it’s interesting, what’s kind of going through my mind and like my own experiences. I’m curious, whether you learned more by experiencing the leadership of good leaders like this, this, this individual, or just by doing in your own screw ups? Or is it kinda equal?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 12:50
Mark Divine 12:51
Both and right?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 12:53
Both, there’s a couple of things. I think there’s three things I write about, in, you know, as a young soldier that absolutely and incredibly embarrassing things that I did, that I totally laugh about now. And those are the things that, that as I became a senior leader, that when I would talk to soldiers in groups or something, and, and those are the stories that I would tell them as a way of saying, like, you know, what, I started out in the same spot. And many times when I meet with a group or something, I would be asked the question, Hey, would you SAR major when you were in our position? Did you ever imagine that you’d get to where you are now? And I would say absolutely not, you know, I basically reiterated to them that I basically just did the right, the right things, you know, stayed in shape, you know, sought education. And along the way, I wasn’t the strongest, I wasn’t the smartest soldier, I wasn’t the most experienced, but, you know, those core things that I sustained over the years had a huge impact on my career and, and the trajectory of my career. So…
Mark Divine 14:08
Yeah, sometimes, you know, the biggest driver of success is just staying in the game.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 14:14
Mark Divine 14:15
Staying in the game, you know, and going through all those ups and downs and, and you know, seeing failures, not as something that were you as a bad person or a screw up but something that just happened that you can learn from. So you you mentioned embarrassing things you have to tell us like what was the most embarrassing or silly thing that you did that you learned from?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 14:35
Well, one time I drove a five ton truck, towing a generator, a trailer with a 60k generator on the back, and I drove it clear across the base with the emergency brake, still applied on the trailer, and I pulled into the motor pool, and I noticed like everybody was stopping what they were doing and turning and looking at me and I thought, oh, okay, they’re checking me out. And when I stopped the truck, then this huge cloud of white smoke just continued on past the cab. And I got out and I looked…
Mark Divine 15:15
You’re like whoops.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 15:15
And, that white cloud was going like down, I can see it like a couple blocks away rising in the air.
Mark Divine 15:23
Oh my gosh.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 15:23
I’ve been trailing that trailer. And, and the, the captain over the motor pool of the OIC over the motor pool came out. And he just he looked at that he just looked down, and he just shook his head. And in what he said to me was monumental, he said, Sergeant Jones, can I safely assume that you did not perform a proper PMCS on that trailer, before you drove that truck? And I was like, Yes, sir.
Mark Divine 15:53
That’s a safe assumption. I love it. You love it when when people can deal with those screw ups with a sense of humor, I think it’s really important quality for a leader, right?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 16:03
Mark Divine 16:03
Because you can immediately defuse the situation without humiliating, you know, the perpetrator. And the lesson is going to be it’s going to take hold, right, as opposed to the hum.. humiliation.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 16:14
Oh, yeah, well, I’m sure you can see the look on my face.
Unknown Speaker 16:17
That’s terrific. So you got off active duty, though, what led you to leave active duty? And then what was the impetus to get back into the reserves National Guard or whichever path?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 16:28
Well, one of the things that that happened along the wave in basic and AIT it was, was that my brother had served a mission for the church that we belong to. And, you know, I live in Utah, so most people can figure it out. And so he really kind of set the example. And so about the time I was getting to the point of entering my that my four year enlistment, I decided that I wanted to do that also, because I saw what it had done for him. So I got out of the military, and I left active duty, and, and then served a two year mission in South America. And, you know, while I was down there, doing that, I realized many times along the way down in those two years that how much the military had, you know, how much it had affected me as a person, how much, you know, affected my character, it just, it really set the tone. And so when I got done with that, I just had always had in the back of my mind, when I came back, and wherever I got settled, I was going to look, you know, back into, you know, joining, going back to active duty or something. I ended up coming here to go to college, and then joining the guard and stuff. But I, you know, at some some point along the way, I realized, you know, the military have never left my system. And I’ve heard so many other friends say that, to me, that you know, how to,people I work with veterans I worked with, even to this day, have at some point is said, yeah, I, you know, I did four years where I did did an enlistment. And they, they miss it. They, you know, they wish that they had continued to serve.
Mark Divine 18:13
And I think that’s the power of the guard and the reserves, right, you can still serve, but you know, your civilian servant, you know, you can still have a family and, and be home for business. And, you know, if war breaks out, then of course, you know, break glass and you have to go, what that experience to me, like for me, you know, the the men in the SEAL teams and the platoons it’s really that that tight operational unit, usually that you’re first with, you become like this, this lifetime friends, right, the bond that’s developed, to that rite of passage is extraordinary. It’s never ending. And so it’s very difficult to find that out in the civilian world. And I see that all the time. And it’s one of the reasons I’m sure, like in your work with people with post traumatic stress, it’s that loss of that camaraderie, and that that tight team that had each other’s back and, you know, in the military sense, we’re literally willing to lay their lives down for each other. And also, we’re kind of bounded in a common mission. You add a little risk to that, and now you got a formula for just an incredible, deep relationship, just hard to find, you know. So that’s, I think, really missing in our culture, right to have a rite of passage where, you know, people can have an experience like this. And for the military, such a small percentage of us that volunteer and have this experience in this. I think it’s unfortunate that we don’t have some other mechanism for it. I mean, perhaps like the missionary experience, give some, some qualities of that. I’m curious if it did, or does?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 19:35
It absolutely did. I mean, it was it’s a team effort. I mean, you’re in a foreign country. You know, I realized when we were leaving to go down there, that these other you know, missionaries that I was with, they’d never some of them had never even been out of out of their home state. At that point, I’d already you know, lived in a couple different places across the country through the military. I also lived in Australia moved to Australia, in my junior year in high school, and so I’d lived outside the country. And so I remember realizing like, these guys are, you know, they’re nervous. They’ve never, you know, leaving the country is a huge deal. And, you know, when you when you get into a place like South America, I mean that the culture shock alone can be tremendous. And so that kind of that bonded us together. And then just the nature of the work of out there, you know, basically helping the people in whatever way we could, we could I mean, humanitarian projects, I mean, you name it. And so I guess I realized, during that time, like, the military, I mean, who’s first to have met humanitarian project on a on a world scale? We are.
Mark Divine 20:49
The US military, yeah.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 20:51
So you know, it just it they played, they played into each other, and I just realized, like, it was in my blood, it was absolutely in my blood.
Mark Divine 21:00
That’s awesome. This is the first time I’ve shared this. But I’ve pivoted with SEALFIT. My team and I just recently, and we’ve launched our reorganized a training around what we call a hero’s journey. And at the at the all in level, it’s a year long journey. But it’s comprised of four separate quests. And the first quest is to get SEALFIT. And that’s to learn the physical, mental and emotional challenge or training to become, you know, have the basic attributes to train like a Navy SEAL, or like a military operator. The second quest is what I call to Be Unbeatable, and that’s to learn how to be a good person, how to be integrated, how to be whole, how to, you know, lead with your heart, and to and to really learn how to be as opposed to just do because we have this massive bias toward action. The third quest is the quest for the Inner Warrior, right? So that’s the spiritual journey, you know, to really go deep and understand your relationship with yourself your higher power, and also to understand what your calling is. And then the fourth quest is what we call to be Sheepdog Strong. That’s so that you can be the person that when you when you come across a car accident, you’re not pulling out your phone and videotaping it.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 22:06
Mark Divine 22:07
Right, you’re going into immediately rendering assistance, because you know how to do first aid, you know how to do field trauma, or if the crisis comes like we’ve had people, literally that have averted first person shooter situations from this training, because I recognized we recognized and we want these quests in this hero’s journey to be accessible to father and son’s, mother and daughters, and also to teens as as a rite of passage. And because we feel like our country just gotten kind of weak and soft, and the commercial interests and the pandering and the victimization, and the woke culture have really kind of like, led us down this path where everyone’s kind of wandering, and they’ve lost their control of their hero’s journey. And so we need to provide, you know, guys like you and I, who have been through it can, can lead by example, and set up conditions, you know, for people to get strong and body, mind and spirit again, and also recognize that doing it as a team is critical, right? Because nobody really goes through hero’s journeys alone. And that’s what we experienced, right? It’s our teammates that inspired us.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 23:05
Exactly. When I like I had a book signing this weekend. And I ended up sitting next to Dan Schilling.
Mark Divine 23:12
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 23:13
The author of Alone at Dawn, and that he was there, you know, for the whole Black Hawk Down thing in most Mogadishu, and..
Mark Divine 23:20
Was he a ranger, or was an air guy?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 23:23
He was he was, he’s a combat controller.
Mark Divine 23:25
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 23:25
And so, and I, you know, we, we’ve done a couple of book signings together before, so it was kind of neat, to be able to sit down and talk again. And, you know, he has a book out, and it’s basically, about situational awareness, and how to increase situational awareness and teaching that to the everyday citizen out there. And was funny, because we were joking about the fact that, you know, we’re the ones that pull up into the grocery store parking lot, and then get out of the car. And we’re, you know, how in our head to head on a swivel, and, you know, it’s like, okay, this guy over there, you know, somebody’s here, you know, you like.
Mark Divine 24:05
That’s right,that’s right, you never lose that you’re always scanning.It’s ingrained in us.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 24:06
It’s ingrained in, and you’re constantly looking around, you know, assessing and so, you know, it was neat to hear him talk about his book to other, to people that showed up to the book signing, and how you know how important that is for but just like you were saying, where people don’t have that.
Mark Divine 24:26
I think it’s you know, guys like you and I have written books not in a sense of like, hey, I was there you need deep and haggard eight pins and oh, look at how badass I was right? Those books have some entertainment value, but a lot of times they do more damage than good. But when you when you can write a book where you glean really interesting life lessons, leadership secrets, you know, teach people like situation awareness like this guy or, or you know how to think like a Navy SEAL. It does. It’s a great service. The way I look at it is like, you know, that the taxpayers basically funded 30 years of you know, in our service, and so why not give a little bit back? As long as you’re not revealing any state secrets or, you know, any operational kind of nuances. And, of course, you know, if you’ve got the right intentions, you would never do that, you know, they’re all stories and names and places or meaning really irrelevant. Right? So good job on that. I think it’s important, even though we might get criticized by some of our teammates, right for for putting a book out there. And you’ve probably had that a little bit, too. Okay. So your book is called Treading the Deep. First, why did you title it that? What’s the deep or the depth?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 25:35
Well, it actually came out of a conversation I had right before we launched into Afghanistan for combat deployment. We were doing mobilization stuff in Fort Hood, Texas. And I had, I was the first sergeant over Delta Company, which was the largest company in the battalion. And one of my section leaders had called me, I had six section leaders under me. And one of them called me and said, he was referring to another section leader, you know, can you believe that? Are you going to let him do that? And I just thought, no, I’m not doing this. I’m not playing the parent role in this situation. So I told all my section leaders. I want to, I want to see you guys tonight at seven o’clock in my office. And so they came in and sat, you know, sat down and talked for a few minutes, and then they kind of all turned like, okay, why are we here. And so I said, you know, I looked at each one of them. And I looked at the guy over, you know, prop and rotor, and I said, you know, I’ve never done your job, I looked at the guy over quality control, never done your job, looked at the guy over production control, never done your job, looked at the guy, you know, over aircraft maintenance, um never done your job,and the guy over the RMS section, I said, I’ve done your job. I said, you know, you guys are the subject matter experts. And I rely on you to take care of your domain. And if there’s an issue, then you need to work it out with each other. I said, you need to learn how to tread deep water, you’re one step away from where I’m at now. And you need to remember that, come if something drastic happens, one of you could be called up to step into my shoes. And you need to be mentally prepared for that. And so I don’t know where I came up with, you know, you need to learn how to tread deep water, but it always kind of stuck with me. And then, of course, titling a book is, you know, I had hundreds of different titles. But, when I came up with that one, the, the my publisher, they just immediately were like, That’s it. That’s the title of the book.
Mark Divine 27:48
Yeah, yeah. I love it. I love that I love titles like that, where you’re making kind of like…, my last book, I was going to call it the somewhat formulaic, you know, seven commitments that forge elite teams. And I, I, I was wanting to try a new process. And so I hired kind of an editor slash up writer to interview me. So I would scope out every chapter and, and then he would interview and record it, and then kind of spin back like the first draft. So after four chapters of this, when he spun it back to me, instead of the title on the cover beings, seven commitment, unfortunately, teams, it said, Staring Down the Wolf.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 28:25
I love it.
Mark Divine 28:26
And I was like, Holy shit, I love that title. And he had gotten it by an earlier book I had written called Unbeatable Mind. And on that I had a picture of me staring down a wolf on the cover. And he was inspired by that. And so, you know, we titled the book that, ironically, I had to go back and recontextualize a lot of the introduction and some of the chapters because, you know, otherwise, the title wouldn’t have made any sense to people.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 28:51
No, I love it. You know, the one thing that happened when they, you know, when I got the title, and then the publishing or the cover design department sent me some, you know, different cover designs and stuff. And when I showed people, the, you know, four different cover designs, and the one that that made the final cut, more people reacted to that. And that, and the title of the book, they, you know, it was just, it was overwhelmingly for that one evoked many things from different people. It was kind of funny, because then I’m sure you’ve seen the cover where the guys on the front looking over the ocean and, and some some people that saw it said, oh, he’s saluting, and then others would be like, no, he’s not. He’s like, you know, he’s like, looking, you know, and I, and when I told that to the, you know, to my contact at the publishing company, he said, hey, that’s the best thing is if it speaks to different people in different ways, so…
Mark Divine 29:51
That’s awesome. So do you have like distill kind of some of the top lessons or are you just telling stories or what’s kind of the architecture for the book? How did you, how did you get your message across?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 30:04
It’s basically kind of follows, you know, my career in chronological order. And, you know, the lessons that I learned early in my career, are are set in that, you know, in that setting and stuff and, and I write about, for instance, go into my the first level of leadership in in the regular army was primary leadership development course. Well, I, I got slotted into that course, because somebody dropped out, I went pretty early in my career and ended up getting kicked out of the course, filed, filed an appeal, it’s an amazing story was reinstated, graduated with the most demerits in the history of the NCA Academy. In Fort Bliss, Texas..
Mark Divine 30:51
That’s awesome. I love it, you failed the leadership course. And you end up going on being the top leader in the army and are committed to one of them. And you write a book on leadership, you can’t make that up.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 31:03
You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Mark Divine 31:05
That’s awesome. There’s qualities of leadership. And then there’s, there’s certain things that that change when your position changes, and you take on the leadership of more and more people and more and more structure and complexity. Can you tell us about how that evolution was for you, like how you had to adapt and evolve your leadership style and capacity as you took more and more responsibility on?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 31:29
Well, I mean, one thing that I learned along the way and learned early in my career is that if you take care of your people, they’ll take care of the job. And so going from a team leader to you know, to a squad leader, and then up to a platoon Sergeant, those lessons always seem to resonate with me. And so, you know, as I became a First Sergeant, I would tell my, my section leaders, and then even as a sergeant major, you know, talking to my first sergeants, I would tell them, you need to get used to the fact there will always be issues to deal with, you know, especially deployed, there’s always somebody who’s has a family member that struggling or somebody has passed away, or some incident in their family back home, that draws their attention, and their focus away from what’s going on.
And, you know, as a leader, you need to be in there with them. And in helping them and I would tell my leaders, you’re going to spend 90% of your time dealing with 10% of the people and, and just get used to it, get used to that, there’s always going to be somebody, you know, somebody passed away back home, or, you know, there’s this or that struggle back home, you know, don’t think smooth sailing is just is an absence of that. Because it’s not, there’s always going to be something that will require your attention. And that if you can aid those leaders under you in those things, and and, you know, it frees them up to do their job. And I would tell them, look, my my job as a leader is to make you successful. And that set the tone, you know, for, you know, what happened during that deployment. And then when we came back, I thought I would be a First Sergeant for at least a few more years, and all of a sudden, I got a phone call one day, and it was like, boom, you’re getting promoted to sergeant major. And, and I, you know, I would talk to my leaders about that, like, look, the doors can open rapidly, and you need to be ready to step through. And, and because you never know when that’s going to happen, you know, making Sergeant Major and becoming the, you know, the top enlisted leader in the battalion was something when we got back from the deployment that I thought, okay, that could be a possibility. A number of years down the road. I never honestly envisioned that happening in within a month.
Mark Divine 34:05
Yeah, it seemed to me that, like, you have to be very patient. In the beginning, it’s just like, any type of analogy, like getting the spaceship out of the atmosphere is like, seemed to take forever. And then suddenly, you know, it’s gone into just just launches, because I remember in my, my career was long, you know, 20 years, and I was right at that cusp, right, as a as an O5, where things, you know, would have started happening faster because I was just about getting to the stratosphere, right. Not that, you know, stratosphere you might say is like really far I’m talking about like flag rank or Command Sergeant Major.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 34:39
Mark Divine 34:40
You reach breakout velocity. But I saw things with my peers who stayed in suddenly happened very fast. Right? Suddenly there O6 next thing you know, they’re being looked at especially after the war kicked off. You know, they’d be looking at for flag and I’m like, holy cow, like literally that was me four years ago, right or five years ago and I could have been aflag officer. And then you know, then boom, boom, boom, I have friends who went from 06 to, you know, three star Admiral within six years and running, you know XXX and all this kind of stuff is like, or XXXt. It blew me away. And I often had a little bit of tinge of regret for getting out at 20. But by then my business had taken off, and my family needed me. And so I also thought that, you know, this is kind of funny, but people, you know, the term commander sounds a lot better than Captain, you know, in the Navy, because everyone thinks that, you know, a captain isn’t O3. But commander sounds like you just kind of are in charge of something. Anyways, a little sideline? Did you ever have to like be a shit screen for a lousy officer or a lousy, you know, counterpart? Who was running that the officer side of the shop?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 35:51
Well, yeah, I did. And there were some toxic leadership can never let your guard down for it. You know, one of the things that I talked to my soldiers about was the fact that you can learn just as much from a toxic leader as you can from a good leader.
The law of contrast, right.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 36:10
Exactly. And that, I would tell them, you’re going to run across them at some point in your career, you’re going to run across them. Unfortunately, the military is kind of the perfect breeding ground, because good leaders have other options, you know, through any, like you’d like you were saying, your business was takening off, good leaders have options to go do other things. And that’s a constant pull, to them, to leave the military and go off and do something else. Because they can be successful in doing that other thing, toxic leaders can stay, and, you know, and permeate, and affect, you know, soldiers our service members, and they can stay in the military and just keep going. And so, you know, there were definitely some some toxic leaders that, that I dealt with, that it was head to head on quite a few occasions.
Mark Divine 37:04
Yeah, and it’s your job to stand up for the enlisted and to, you know, to block the crap from rolling downhill. And then that can be painful. I’ve always thought that in the military, you know, the, those who love to lead and lose who love to serve, right, they get promoted by virtue of that passion and, and the success of their team. Those who love to play the system, and to work their career so that they can get promoted, they actually succeed. It’s called The Peter principle. But they don’t succeed because of their success of their team, they succeed because they this illusion that they create, and they ultimately can do a lot of damage. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t have a great way to weed them out.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 37:44
And that’s how I made Sergeant Major was the Sergeant Major, that was the aviation Sergeant Major here in the state was, you know, what, probably one of the most toxic leaders that have ever been around. And finally he did some questionable things. And there were some allegations, and he threw in his retirement paperwork. And otherwise, like I said, I, I would have stayed at first sergeant for a number of years after that, which I was fine with, you know, getting a toxic leader out is a win for the military, in many cases.
Mark Divine 38:14
We gotta wrap this up. But what do you think the state of the army is, or even the military in general right now? Because, you know, we’re starting to read some things, there seems to be some discontent among some senior enlisted, especially post Afghanistan. I don’t want to make this political but more and more about the cultural wokeism and the stuff that’s going on in the military, which has always been used as a laboratory, you know, for cultural edge stuff?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 38:39
Well, hopefully, in my opinion, the you know, that wokeism that’s creeped in, you know, that pendulum will swing for you guys like you and I it’ll swing way too far over. Hopefully, that’ll come back. At some point. I I’m confident that it will. But the one thing I, you know, I wrote a editorial piece talked about the fact that right now, all the poor leadership in the military gets all the press, all the bad leaders but the central point of the article was basically that they’re, even though that gets all the press, there’s still good leaders throughout the services that are doing the right thing, that are taken care of their their soldiers, their, you know, service members, and teaching those lessons that will raise up that next generation. I go, I went two weeks ago to a barbecue back at you know my guard unit at the Aviation Hangar and I looked around and the senior leaders are were the soldier were the young soldiers under me in Afghanistan. And I looked around and I you know, put my arm around a few of them and just said. look at you guys. You know, we’ll and gals look at you soldiers. Look where you’re at now. You know, Afghanistan was 10 years ago. You’re now senior leaders and just told them how proud I was of them. And so the good thing about the military is that it infuses that culture in the younger generation and the new enlistees. And I’m confident that that will overcome in the long run.
Mark Divine 40:16
Yeah, I love that. Awesome. All right. So where can people find more about you, Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones, and your book?
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 40:27
It’s available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. It’s in paperback, Kindle version. It’s on Audible. So, it’s my own voice. So I recorded the whole book. I’m on Instagram Author Bradley Jones, Twitter, Author BP Jones. So there’s plenty of places that they can find me, Mark. Thanks for having me on the show. It’s been a pleasure.
Mark Divine 40:54
Yeah. Likewise, I appreciate it very much, Bradley. Thank you for your service. And thank you for paying it forward by helping others get inspired by your leadership lessons and your life story. Hooyah, as we say in the SEAL’s.
Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones 41:06
Awesome, thank you, Mark. And thank you for your service, my friend.
Mark Divine 41:08
Appreciate that. All right. Thank you very much sir. What a really fun episode. I love talking to leaders. I love talking to military members who served for a long period of time and are willing to pay that back in the form of sharing their insights, and especially on leadership, which is near and dear to my heart. It’s a great episode. Thank you so much. Command Sergeant Major Bradley Jones for your service, and for writing this awesome book Treading the Deep. Show notes are up at our website, MarkDivine.com. You can find me on Twitter at Mark Divine and Real Mark Divine at Instagram and Facebook. Or you can find me at my LinkedIn profile. The Divine Inspiration newsletter comes out every Tuesday morning where I post my blog. And it was top of mind their posts the show notes for the podcast for that week. As well as other really interesting things that come across my desk that I think that you would find valuable. So if you’re not on that subscription, this go to MarkDivine.com and subscribe. Shout out to my amazing Team Q Williams, Jason Sanderson, Geoff Haskell, who helped bring guests like Bradley to us every week. Reviews and ratings very, very helpful. Help others find us, give us credibility keep us floating above the amazingling number of podcasts that are popping up every week. So if you haven’t rated and reviewed us, please consider doing so wherever you listen, and I’m on a quest to get 5000-5 star reviews this year. Thank you for your support. We are facing a seemingly divided complex, strange and toxic culture. A lot of systems are breaking down we have an old guard that is struggling to hang on to its power while we have new system structures, growing positive mindset and consciousness evolving. And I’m very optimist about the future. But we’re going to go through some challenging VUCA times. It’s up to us to train ourselves to navigate that and to be great teammates and have strong body strong minds and strong teams. So I’m excited to announce that we’ve launched and pivoted SEALFIT to orient around hero’s journeys. So we’ve got a year long hero’s journey with four separate quests you can join any quest or join us on the whole year long process. First quest as you might have heard, or you’ve heard us talk about on this podcast is the quest to be SEALFIT, which is a 90 day adventure where the two and a half day event immersive training event, a challenge and group coaching. Second quest is the quest to be Unbeatable. The third, the quest for the Inner Warrior and the fourth, the quest to be Sheepdog strong. It’s incredible training I invite you to go check it out at sealfit.com/show and receive a special offer for being a valued listener. Thanks so much for all you do. Thanks so much for your support. And until next time, be the change you want to see it in the world. But do it with your team. Hooyah! Divine out.
Transcribed by Catheine and https://otter.ai