Joe Bogdan is another one of the great people I get to meet, by referral from other great people. In one call, we knew we had a lot to offer each other and each other’s audiences. His podcast will bring me to the ears of his followers and as a trade for his generosity, I asked him to opine here today. He is off in Iraq as you read this and I wish him a safe, successful mission and we thank him for his service to our country.
He is a deep thinker and I am fortunate to call him a collaborator and colleague.
Thanks for this guest blog post, Joe!
As military service members, we train to prepare for every possible event, every single day. We pride ourselves in being trained to do dangerous things as safely as possible. We constantly evaluate risk and do our best to mitigate it. However, when it comes to our own transition out of the service, most of us procrastinate. We shed the very thing that made us so successful throughout our careers, our proactive and deliberate approach to absolutely everything. It might be a defense mechanism we utilize to avoid the day we might be dreading, the day we must take off the uniform that we often identify with. It could be fear of the unknown. Maybe it could even be denial or lack of awareness and understanding of how monumental this transition is and how it affects us. From my experience with various transitions, and what I’ve learned from witnessing how others have effectively and sometimes ineffectively navigated through theirs, I’ve found the following tips can aid in dealing with the shift.
Remember, our roles are just a part of our story
When we get overly attached to positions, ranks, and titles it makes transitioning from one military assignment to another or from our military careers to civilian life extremely daunting. It’s already an endeavor inherently packed with stress and anxiety, there is no reason to make it more challenging. We should remember, we are not our positions. We are not our ranks. We are not our titles. Although we should be proud that we have earned them, they are not who we are, just a part of our story. I continuously remind myself of that and will continue to over the final 11 years of my career, so that when I make that transition, I won’t feel like I’ve lost a part of myself.
Check the ego
Ego manifests in a variety of ways. Personally, it sometimes makes it difficult to ask for help as I am the one accustomed to doing the helping. Effectively transitioning is not a solo sport. It requires humility and a growth mindset. If you want to do something new, put yourself in a room of experts in that field and learn. If you are the “dumbest” one in the room, you’re in the right room! Whether it is regarding managing your thoughts and feelings, or working a resume or building a network, check your ego and ask for help.
Build bridges before you need them
In the service, we learn communicating is important and building networks and fostering strong relationships are vital to self-development and mission success. But when it comes to our personal success, some of us don’t make the connection. Bridges are most effective if they are built before we need them. So, begin expanding your network now and some great relationships will follow. Something I have done is investing time into my LinkedIn page. I continuously connect with people across a variety of fields. I don’t expect all these connections to culminate in a good return on investment, but by not holding such expectations, I have found many of these relationships become meaningful and rewarding, and often open up doors for me.
So, remember the skills that got you here, because they will get you where you want to be.