"Monday Musings” are designed to get quick, insightful thoughts based around three questions from those interested in strategy, from the most experienced and lauded, to our newest thinkers/writers.
1. Who had the greatest impact on you intellectually (whether through writing, mentorship, etc.)?
Without a doubt, the most impactful person on me professionally is Colonel (Retired) Jim Greer. As a young captain, I sat down with just-retired Colonel Greer, a former director of the Army’s School for Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), to ask for advice. Following the example of great leaders like my first battalion operations officer, then-Major Rich Creed, I always wanted to attend the school so I asked Colonel Greer what I should be doing to prepare for SAMS (both for selection and to graduate). His advice was to write and publish. He said this practice would help me develop critical thinking, improve my writing, and provide evidence of both to the SAMS selection board when I got to that point. This advice led to practically every professional and personal endeavor since—including dozens more mentorship relationships that have led to every job I’ve had since that time. It doesn’t get more impactful than that.
2. What book (fiction, history, or academic) do you think best explains strategy?
I don’t think it would surprise anyone that the book that impacted me the most in the realm of strategy—and best explains what may be described as a “general theory of strategy”—is Colin Gray’s The Strategy Bridge: Theory for Practice. I read this early on in my life as a strategic plans and policy officer, so the timing of its consumption probably played a role, though I’ve gone back to it at least a few more times and it still holds an amazing amount of wisdom for my day-to-day activities.
3. What do you want your legacy to be?
I hope I am able to continue developing networks to help others achieve their goals. From my writing, I found something Colonel Greer did not mention—connection. I was able to connect to many interesting, high-energy people interested in the same issues with which I struggled. These connections led to groups that support each other develop solutions…or at least the journey toward solutions. From the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum to The Bridge and the Military Writers Guild, each was created and continues to thrive because of what it provides—support and human connection. If I can continue to support efforts like these, I’ll be happy.
Nathan K. Finney is an officer in the U.S. Army. He is also the founder and Managing Director of the Military Fellowship at the Project on International Peace & Security, the founder and editor of The Bridge, a member of the Infinity Journal's Editorial Advisory Board, a founding board member of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, a founding member of the Military Writers Guild, a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point, and a PhD candidate in history at the University of Kansas. Nathan holds masters degrees in Public Administration from Harvard University and the University of Kansas, as well as a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona. He tweets at @NKFinney.
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