You hear about the perks of joining the military quite a bit. Not only does it offer the veteran a myriad of benefits, but it gives the individual certain life skills and experiences that are very difficult to attain elsewhere. Discipline, a solid work ethic, and the willingness to do the dirty-work that no one else wants to — these are all useful qualities in any profession.
However, for whatever reason, sometimes there is a disconnect from those positive, military-centric qualities and applying it to civilian life upon ETS. Many separate from the military and are disappointed that they don’t get to use those qualities, or at least not right away or in the ways they’d like. Sometimes they come to the hard realization that their military experience alone doesn’t qualify them for much — they need to learn a new skill, and even then a job or opportunity might not come easy. Only once that employment is secured, can they go on to let those more abstract skills flourish.
And still, sometimes people have trouble taking the abstract skills from military life and applying it to a civilian job. That takes some thinking outside the box, since (with the exception of a handful of jobs) the work the veteran will be doing in the civilian sector will be wildly different from their military careers.
But when you do take those skills and apply them, it will benefit the veteran (and the group for which they work) immensely.
Take testing, for example. In the military, if you pass a test on combat knowledge with a 99%, that is not a passing grade. There is no spectrum of success in combat — either you complete the mission, mitigate injury and deaths to your own, or you don’t. Either you properly apply a tourniquet, or you don’t. Either you put rounds center-mass, or you don’t. A 99% only means that 1% of the time, someone might be killed and that is unacceptable.
So, you train, and you push yourself to conduct all operations at 100% proficiency at all times. While that may not be entirely possible, that’s the mentality you have to possess in order to be successful on the battlefield.
A 99% in college usually means you’re one of the best in the class, and you’ve got a nearly masterful handle on the subject being studied. While that’s true, an honest attempt at learning the material would prompt the student to (after a well-deserved pat on the back) go back and figure out what went wrong with that 1%.
Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to stress out about college or work in the way that you might have stressed out about the proper application of a tourniquet. However, there are benefits to applying these general principles and methods of thought to the civilian workplace or while pursuing higher education. It’s surprisingly easy to slip into the pitfalls of your fellow students or employees, especially if they are satisfied with a 75%, let alone a solid “A.”
Or another example: in writing for a living. There are times when I feel like I can write an article and turn around and call it a day. Sometimes I do — and I always regret it. Be it the occasional factual error or grammatical one, when I forget to apply that high level of work ethic, discipline and attention to detail that I learned in the military, my articles (and therefore my entire body of work) suffers for it. And my editor is not happy.
I love to write, but I don’t love combing through my own work (which I just wrote) and scanning intently for grammatical errors or syntax mishaps. But it’s necessary, and like it or not it’s part of the job — and those qualities I learned from the military can apply to my job, if I let them.
In what ways do you apply those intangible military qualities to your work?
Featured image courtesy of the USAF.