No. Military transition and career transition are not the same thing. It may sound obvious, but you wouldn't know it from the protocols used to execute what passes for military transition today. To prove my point, ask yourself this question: How do most service members define a successful transition? I would submit that it has something - if not everything - to do with landing a job. Unfortunately, military transition isn't about employment. It is about uncovering your identity from under the uniform so you can step confidently into the next chapter of your lifeRead More
So, I guess the big question is: How will this turn out? When I read the press release from the Transition to Veterans Program Office announcing changes to the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program, I was left shaking my head. My initial reaction was negative - very negative. They just don't get it. I saw several posts on LinkedIn from veterans and veteran advocates asking for thoughts and opinions about the forthcoming changes, and a part of me felt the urge to regress into angry email mode. I thought better of it. Because I didn't want my emotions to bias the argument, I stepped away from the keyboard. I took some time to craft a more thoughtful response to the changes, and well, here goes . . .Read More
I know what that feels like to look up from the bottom of the hill. I've been there.
Both times that I left the military, I approached the process of searching for a job as an insurmountable climb. It wasn't just about a job. It was about acceptance. It was about proving my worth. Any success in the military wasn't enough. I was striving to meet the standard of 'good enough' in order to get a chance to step out as a leader in the civilian world. My price of admission into that world was my resume - or so I thought. It was the symbol of my hard work, achievement, and sacrifice. Because my perspective was from the bottom looking up, I wasn't showcasing my potential. I certainly wasn't leading. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was screaming to anyone who could hear me that I was simply not good enough.Read More
Organizations are a lot like people. They are born out of passion. They embody a hope for the future. They start out small with great energy and innocence. Unlike people, organizations are manifested from an idea. That idea attracts others. A leader provides the energy that inspires followers. People connect with the idea or mission because it honors their values and calling to make a difference. As it matures, the organization may have the opportunity to grow. It becomes more sophisticated, refined, and complex in order to reach even more people. In an effort to ensure conformity, quality, and standards throughout the organization, we create systems, rules, and procedures. The idea becomes hard-wired into a machine. That machine has a name, and its name is bureaucracy.Read More
In the fictional story of Scent of a Woman, the plot centers around the fact that the qualities of the people in the organization shape the culture of that organization. Think about how this applied throughout your career. You considered yourself a part of the in-group as a soldier, and you may have had some strong opinions about civilian outsiders. Even within the military, we have sub-cultures and established norms for how things are done based on the groups we belong to. In Part 4 of this 5 part series, I'll explore how the qualities of the people shape the culture of an organization and offer some questions that might help you discover the right tribe in life beyond the military.Read More
We honor military service for its selfless quality, but is it really? To be sure, the military life can be a hard one. Anyone who has been to combat knows that the sacrifices are real. All that said, you volunteered. You answered the call. Hell, we all did, and given the choice, most of us would do it again. We see past the hardship and actually consider our service a privilege. It was deeper than the uniform. It wasn't just a job. It was our life. It may have been a selfless endeavor, but it satisfied an intrinsic drive to find purpose and meaning. It brought us closer to understanding our why.
In part 3 of this 5 part series, I'll explore how the deeper reason why an organization exists shapes the culture and offer some questions that might help you discover the right tribe in life beyond the military.Read More
People follow a leader because they want to - not because they have to. Leadership is a human phenomenon - not a management construct. The two indispensable characteristics of the leader follower dyad are trust and inspiration. Think about it: If someone ordered you to trust them, would you? Of course not - it doesn't work that way. Trust is something given freely to a leader. Inspiration is a feeling. Leaders move you to action. They provide the intrinsic, emotive energy for movement along a path toward an objective. Consequently, leadership is more about what's in the heart than what comes from the head.
As Part 2 of a 5 part series on finding your new tribe after military service, I'll explore how these qualities influence the culture of an organization and offer some questions that might help you discover the right tribe in life beyond the military.Read More
Disconnection from the military culture is the hardest part of transition. Likewise, connecting with a new culture in civilian society is the hardest part of reintegration. Social connection is one of our core psychological needs. According to Brene Brown, it is the reason why we are here. Culture matters. Regarding the challenge of reconnecting with society, it's called a civil-military cultural gap for a reason. So much of the urgency surrounding how to find a new job hovers around the idea of finding the right fit in a new tribe, but what does that mean? How can you assess the culture of an organization, and more importantly, how do you determine the right fit for you?
In this part 1 of 5 series, I’ll help you to better understand (1) the factors that inform the culture of an organization and (2) the strategies on how to assess whether or not a particular culture is the right fit for you.Read More
What would Captain America be like as a veteran? More importantly, who would he be if he wasn't the "super soldier?" The obvious answer is that he would still be Steve Rogers, but who is that? So much of his persona is tied to his role as the leader of the Avengers that it’s hard to separate his true identity from the uniform. Sound familiar? When you think about it, Steve Rogers would go through many of the same challenges that you face when leaving the military.Read More
The state of the all volunteer force is not well. In 2018, the army failed to meet recruiting objectives for the first time in 13 years. So, when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent to serve in the Armed Forces, we need to start looking for creative solutions in unsuspecting places. Instead of scrutinizing the quality of the military recruit, it might be time to showcase the quality of our veterans. Maybe we need to stop paying so much attention to how people come into the service and start paying more attention to their success after they leave.Read More
As you enter that space between the military and civilian worlds, you hear a lot of voices. When it comes to which players you might recruit to be on your team, you've got plenty of choices. There are facilitators, coaches, mentors, branding experts, recruiters, hiring managers, hiring specialists, headhunters, veteran advocates, scouts, veteran champions, employment directors, employment specialists, transition experts, transition advisors, career coaches, human resources specialists, career counselors, lions, tigers, and bears… oh my! With all of these players carrying all of these labels, how do you make sense of who's who in the transition space? More to the point, how do you know you've partnered with the right players for your transition journey?Read More
The military has its own version of the F-word. Like the other word you might be thinking of, this F-word is considered an obscenity in our culture. It represents something that is not to be tolerated. If you used this F-word to describe a fellow service member, he or she would definitely be offended. It represents what lurks underneath our persona and warrior ethic. We don't like to talk about it, but trust me, we all know it's there.
The last enemy you confront in your military journey is the one you face when you drive out the main gate for the last time. The F-word that haunts you during military transition is FEAR.Read More
Transition is not something that coincides with a specified date on the calendar, and it involves so much more than the task of finding a new job. It's about finding a new life. Transition is like a bridge. It begins with separation from the military and ends upon successful reintegration back into society. Veteran Purgatory is the negative space between these two worlds. It is where you are no longer connected to the military, but you don't feel connected to civilian society, either. When veterans don't make their way across the bridge into a life of purpose and meaning beyond the military, they become lost in Veteran Purgatory.Read More
I still had about nine months before retirement, so I wasn’t looking for a job per se. I was giving my pound of flesh to feed the beast we call networking. The rhetoric surrounding this process had reached a fevered pitch that surpassed hyperbole and landed firmly in hysteria. For this trip, my goal was to meet with at least 20 organizations and collect as many business cards for follow-up conversations. According to the process, those conversations would lead to other connections. After enough iterations, I hoped to finally connect with the right person for the ideal job opportunity. Unfortunately, it didn't work…Read More
As you approach your separation or retirement date, you will remember the many faces and places that shaped your military journey. You may remember the excitement and anticipation you felt on the day you reported for duty. You may recall the confidence of assuming that command and the pride of relinquishing that authority after a job well done. Remember what it felt like when you boarded that flight on your first trip into combat, and who could ever forget the satisfaction and joy of seeing your family for the first time when you returned home? As you approach the day when you will no longer wear the uniform, don't be surprised if you relive everything you felt from the experiences while wearing the uniform.Read More
Trust me. I'm shaking my head, too. When I consider the ultimate holiday wish for you and your family, I hark to the herald of a memory involving a singer-songwriter from the mid-seventies who happens to be in his mid-seventies. You read it right the first time. My Christmas Wish for you is the Barry Manilow Moment.Read More
If veterans need anything, it is your active involvement in the reintegration process. The military tradition is an inseparable part of our national conscience, but veterans are a shrinking minority across our population. The civil-military cultural gap continues to widen as the percentage of service members, veterans, and their families continues to fall. Let’s facilitate their continued growth beyond the military by harnessing their intrinsic drive, addressing the cultural nuances of the military style, and expanding the aperture for commensurate leadership opportunities as veterans in the civilian workplace.Read More
Who have you lost touch with along your journey through the military? A defining aspect of our culture is the shared adversity that forges deep relationships. Hardship strengthens those bonds. The team becomes greater than the self because of what each member is willing to give so that unit perseveres and achieves. These are the defining moments of the military experience. Soldiers become more than comrades. They become a band of brothers and sisters. They become family. And even when you leave the military, they are still your family.Read More
Why is there such a stark contrast between how society sees its warriors and its veterans? Why do we see ourselves so differently? Sometimes we feel inclined to point the finger at society. It seems easier to attribute the negative stereotypes to a civilian populace increasingly separated from the military experience, but if I'm being honest, it isn't their fault. It's ours.Read More
Let's be honest. The reasons for hiring veterans has become . . . cliche. You've read the same article or listened to the same pitch before. The usual justifications typically involve some combination of the words leadership, teamwork, performance under pressure, integrity, accountability, adaptability . . . and the list goes on. It's time to change the dynamics of post-military employment and veteran utilization across the corporate landscape.Read More