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Monday, May 9, 2016

Unlearning my Military Traits (Skills I Learned Part 2)

There is no doubt that my 23 years in the military have contributed satisfaction and success in my current business, career and family life.  But I continue to learn and unlearn as I move on to meet the daily challenges of my advancement as entrepreneur and human relationship.

I believe these hawkish traits I learned in the Navy continues to block some of those potentials I could have as an entrepreneur but it also (borderline) helping me succeed in some areas of my life.

1.  Being myself versus Being uni-form.  Being open and not worrying about what other people or boss/subordinates (chain of command) thinks of me are two edges sword.  It delays my growth when I constantly watching what I say or do.  For over 20 years, I have to follow certain rules then hold some of my emotions to conform to my team (or squadron).

2.  Structured Life versus Open Life.  I have to rely on certain orders and follow the back and white orders of things.  Military must follow written instructions with certain levels of repercussions if not followed.  That "fear" continues to flow in my "vein" to structure my daily grind.

3.  Hierarchy of Things versus Out of the Box.  Enlisted personnel have to follow the Chiefs (non-commissioned officers) dictates and Chiefs have to obey the direction of their officers.  In the business world, we still have to follow our boss but millennials and recent decade’s business trends illustrates the equal power of all levels of chain of command that is always open to new ideas without having to go through various red tapes.

4.  Risk Taking versus Unorthodox Practices.  I remember in many occasions I have to follow exact checklist on how to fix things in ships or else you are gundecking or not following procedures.  We were not even allowed to do a bungee jump on certain port visits or try the untested.  Every time I have to climb my roof or walls at home, there is that voice of my chief or commander that tells me I am not following safety procedures after over dozens of safety briefs I have attended.

5.  Positional Authority versus Leadership Respect.  Most cases in my business or on my last 2 years as civilian, I can conclude that true leadership is earned by deeds alone rather than title or rank.  While in the Navy, most are considered a leader by default if you wear a uniform that shows the higher rank or with the most ribbons.  In the military, you are seen inferior or superior based solely (in many cases) in how many stars or crows or bars or how squared away your uniforms are or how shiny your boots are.

6. Clear Cut versus Fair Trade.  As a Navy chief (non-commissioned officer or E7 and have earned the title for life) I know exactly what my benefits and privileges are.  I get paid exactly the same amount if I just do my job and follow the rules.  Also, everything that we do in the military are clear-cut out for us (see cartoon) in most cases - elementary level.  In the world of business, I have to earn every minute and hour to get a fair trade in negotiation or business deals.  I did not work as hard now compared to while I was in the military career BUT I enjoyed every minute I spend in my business and trade that I chose to make a living.  That spoon feeding mentality I learned in the military will not work in the world of entrepreneur.  

I still believe that the behaviors I learned in the military outweighs the negative as I continue to balance these "individual traits" as needed depending on situations.

As veterans, we should be open to learning from both the lower and higher ranks.  In most cases, as civilian now, I learn a lot from the success of those who typically stayed less in the military (6 years or less) than those who stayed over 22 years - who continues to withhold into job security (rather than take risk and grow) and felt more comfortable into the above traits I mentioned.

The worst thing a veteran like myself can do is continue to hold into that 20 years of military experience or clutch into that prestigious rank and privilege we “earned” even though that uniform has been hanged already but continues to be trapped and flaunt our eagles, stars or anchors and try to  influence others using the gleams of our collared devices.