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
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
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 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
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
When it comes to the value of hiring senior military leaders, we've lost the narrative. Employers, hiring managers, and recruiters try to fit someone with 20 or more years of service into a 10 or less years of service box. When we consider these leaders for positions commensurate with the level of authority and responsibility they enjoyed through the military, we retreat to the usual excuses hidden in the civil-military cultural divide. But, what if these assessments are wrong?Read More
Thank you for your service. You've had an impressive career . . . but you're not what we're looking for.
Sound familiar? I've heard that before, and if you're a senior leader, perhaps you've heard it too. Interestingly enough, I didn't hear it when I left the army as a junior captain. I remember attending only one hiring conference about three months before my separation date. From that one event, I had eleven follow-up interviews that landed six job offers! Three of the six offers had compensation packages that exceeded what I was making in the army. Finding a job as a junior officer was easy. But this was not the case when I left the army for a second time after more than 20 years of service. So why does this happen?Read More
Do you remember the first time you saw yourself as a leader? Maybe it was through sports or a similar activity from high school. Maybe you assumed a leadership role in your family or community. Perhaps it happened before you were even a teenager. You hardly noticed it because it didn’t really require you to do much of anything. You were just being yourself. Others were drawn to your energy. People were inclined to follow you. Through your leadership, you discovered a genuine passion to serve others. You believed that you could make a difference, so you did.Read More
This question - or versions of this question - represents the number one thing I am asked by military leaders in the transition process. I think am asked this question so often because I demonstrated what not to do. I am that guy - I had 8 jobs over the course of 3 years. Future veterans don't want to repeat my mistakes, but I'll have you know that I am not alone!Read More
Your intentions matter. At the point of greatest uncertainty and fear, you decide how you will focus your actions and apply your energy. Regardless of how desperate the circumstances may seem in the moment, you have the power to set your intentions for the future. If you ignore or neglect the potential of this power, you have still made a choice. You simply default to the mercy of your situation. You become a victim of circumstance. Inevitably, you wind up lowering your expectations and settle for less. Whether you are trying to solve the problem of re-entry back into earth's atmosphere or re-entry back into civilian society, your intentions are everything.Read More
I have a unique perspective on military transition. I did twice. I also did it poorly, twice. The first time I left the military as a junior captain. I put my faith in a junior officer recruiting company to find the best job opportunity. By "best" I meant the option with the most prestigious title and highest paying salary. They did. Unfortunately, it was the wrong job for me, and within a year of my separation, I was miserable. To make matters worse, I was laid off when the tech bubble burst. It was a total disaster. My second transition was my retirement after 21 years of military service. Once again, I ended up in the wrong job. Once again, I was unemployed. Once again, I was miserable.Read More