Hope Unseen Book Review

Hope Unseen: The Story of the U.S. Army's First Blind Active-Duty Officer by Scotty Smiley with Doug Crandall

Much is written about words like character and leadership. Countless words are used to describe the inner makeup of people we admire and desire to emulate. Often we want the success of a Tiger Woods or Peyton Manning, but we seldom put in the work. We don't want the effort, just the rewards.

Character is refined and revealed by difficulty. Ease and blessing seldom make us stronger. Character growth runs counter to our innate desire for comfort and peace. We don't become better people without a struggle. We can't grow muscle without strain and we can't grow character without it either.

We've defined character-based leadership as leading from who you are, not your power or position. We've discussed examples of people who inspired us as they served us and the missions we're a part of. We don't often talk about the hardships we or others have had to overcome to get where we are. We take the lessons and incorporate them into stories. But we don't often get to reflect on the life of a person and how they achieved and overcame in spite of difficulty.

For Veteran's Day, I want to recommend a book about a man whose experience is documented in Hope Unseen. Captain Scotty Smiley was injured by a suicide bomber on April 6, 2005. His reaction to the trial and adversity that he and his family and friends experienced has been an inspiration to many. Lead Change member Doug Crandall co-wrote.

The book reads more like a movie with scenes jumping a bit between college, and periods of time before and after the accident that took away his eyesight. It recounts Captain Smiley's faith and how it was tested and where it fit in his journey. It explains his experiences at West Point. You get to know his friends and learn about his faith and his path to Iraq, as well as his trial of faith and his courage and experiences afterward.

His ordeal puts your life and your challenges in perspective. His sacrifice in defense of freedom will challenge you to reconsider your purpose and mission. How does your effort measure up? How easily do you give up, or start whining? What does it take to get you to settle for something less than what you know is best?

I was convicted by the story and recommend the book. My only difficulty with it was how the story jumped around. I've clearly been reading too much of the non-fiction self-development genre lately. Get a copy of the book and take a weekend to appreciate this man, his ordeal and how his courage, perseverance, attitude, faith and family and friends have helped him to overcome in spite of the difficulty. Don't miss this.

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