In May of 2019, I will retire from the military. This will be the conclusion to a very important chapter of my life that started on 30 July, 1997.
This journey has been an amazing experience, specifically due to the people I’ve had the honor of serving with. Without these people, my experiences would not be the same and more than likely, I would forget about them.
I joined the U.S. Army at the age of 18 and if I’m being honest, I was very naive about the real world. I grew up in a very small community so my perception of the world was very limited. I always remind myself: where you came from is extremely important but it doesn’t have anything to do with where you’re going.
I would love to list all the courses I attended during my 20+ years but I don’t want to bore people with the names of 50-60 courses. Instead, I will focus on the 2 courses that had a major impact in my life:
Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC): Due to completing the SHARP Foundation Course, I eventually became the SARC for my Brigade, along with my role as a Victim Advocate (VA). I also perform advocacy for my Contingent SARN Advocate position (non-military). I’ve been working in this field for approximately 8 years. Equality is incredibly important to me and I hope to pass on this passion to my children.
Master Resilience Trainer (MRT): Without question, this is the best course I’ve ever completed. Because of this course (certification) I’ve had the pleasure of certifying over 150 Resilience Trainer Assistants (RTA).
This training is a huge contributing factor to how I managed to turn my life around. I can’t wait to share some new processes that I created for my upcoming book: The Best Version of You. It will be finished in 2018 and will be my 3rd book. This will be my first Self Help book.
In conclusion: I want to thank everyone that has helped me along this journey. I never deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) or Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) so to some people, my 20+ years might not mean very much. I believed that for almost 10 years.
But that’s not true. As a leader, my job was to take care of people regardless of the location. Therefore, I still contributed to the Army’s mission. I do not regret anything about my career because everything contributed to the person I am today. For that, I love the military and I will truly miss it and the amazing people.
Spending most of your time preparing your resume does not compensate for your lack of social skills. A company wants you to tell them why you’re the best qualified person for the position, not read about it. Your bio does not illustrate your value, you do. Plus, companies buy paper, they don’t hire it. They hire you.
Is your resume important? Absolutely. It is a quick way for employers to categorize people they believe have the potential to fulfill the vacancy.
“This young lady has a history of public speaking, that is a plus for what we’re looking for.” (They will still require evidence of this skill.)
“This man hasn’t worked in over five months, this makes me question his work ethic so we’ll cross him off the list.” (Even if this not true, the perception tells a different story and the company is not willing to waste their time.)
You definitely want to make sure you annotate accurate information that can tell your story, without you being present. Remember, this is just the introduction. You must be prepared to verbally convey the next couple of chapters of your story during the interview process. “Sir, let me tell you about the course I facilitated for thirty-five people.”
Your social skills are the number one selling point for you during the interview process. If you annotate something on your resume and you’re not prepared to talk about it, why did you annotate it? If an employer asks you, “I see you were employed at XYZ company for five months. Can you tell me why you decided to leave that company after a short period of time?”
This is not an opportunity for you to say, “They didn’t see my full potential and I just couldn’t work for a company that doesn’t show me respect.” When you reference negativity to justify leaving a former position, you are telling this company you will do the same thing if you’re not happy with the environment, there. This will usually eliminate any possibility of you being hired for the position.
You need to learn how to respond to all forms of questions. In the same scenario, this would be a better response, “I really enjoyed working for that company but I was presented with an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.” Even if you were not happy in the position, there’s no reason to introduce it into the conversation. Employers want to know you’re professional and capable of adapting to adversity. Why? Because they are focused on the future of the company. When you’re not able to adapt to adversity, you don’t grow. When you don’t grow, the company you work for does not grow, either.
“Bob, your resume referenced that you have facilitated several courses for the ABC company. Can you tell us about your experience as a facilitator and how you prepare yourself?” (This is an opportunity for you to sell yourself.)
“Yes, being a facilitator is a passion of mine. I have been doing it for ten years and I feel that I’m very good at it. I could have easily stopped learning how to be an effective facilitator after completing my training. However, I have continued to sharpen my skills by reading, listening to, and watching videos on how to become a better facilitator. I recognize that how I led a course in 2017 might not be the most productive way to lead the same course in 2018. Why? People change and in order for me to be effective, I have to change with them.”
“Regardless of how many times I’ve led a particular course, I always prepare my notes, video presentations, PowerPoint slides, and breakout sessions at least two to three weeks out so I have plenty of time to rehearse. Money is time, and I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. If they are attending one of my courses, they deserve to get the best training possible.”
To some, this might be overselling yourself. Be honest though, would you rather undersell yourself? How is this company going to recognize your potential if you’re not telling them enough information? This example demonstrated you’re able to think outside of the box and you’re constantly adapting to change. This tells the interviewer, “I can adapt to whatever direction this company is going.”
It is also very important for you to make eye contact with the person asking you questions. Eye contact helps convey authenticity. If you’re not able to look at your potential employer, how can this company trust you’ll be able to look at its customers? Plus, looking away demonstrates self doubt and possible deception. Employers that are skilled in non-verbal cues will easily pick up on this.
Leaning back in your chair – “I want out of this interview as fast as possible.”
Shifting your feet toward the exit – Again, “I want out of this room.”
Covering your mouth when you speak – “I’m not sure about my answer or I’m probably lying to you about my previous work history.”
Rubbing the back of your neck – “I’m uncomfortable with this question or topic.”
Crossing your arms across your chest – “I am guarding myself because I’m uncomfortable with my environment, I’m being deceitful, or I am arrogant and you’re wasting my time with these particular questions.”
Bottom line: Companies are looking for people that can produce results. Annotating your qualifications in a Microsoft Word document is only a small percentage of you landing a job. Double-down on your social skills and rehearse as much as possible. I can’t even count how many times people have told me, “I’m not good at speaking in front of people. I get too nervous and don’t know what to do.”
My response, “Do you actually get out and try it?”
“No, I’m not good at it.”
“That’s why you’re not good at it.”
People forget that nothing beats experience. You can read all day about how to do something but until you apply what you’ve learned via action, you’ll never be good at it. Steve Jobs was terrible at public speaking in his earlier years. But people forget about that because they just remember how skilled he was before he passed away. He could have landed any job he wanted based on his social skills. It takes patience and consistent action.
Most of us want to be the person we needed as a child. By doing so, it helps us cope with the things we struggled with during a particular chapter in our life. It doesn’t erase it but does effectively use the pain as an instrument for change.
What you need to remind yourself: If the people in your life would have been what you wanted them to be, you would not be the person you are, today.
“I wish you would have been a better friend/sibling/parent.”
“I needed your help, and you weren’t there for me.”
“Why didn’t you warn me about life’s major obstacles?”
What you need to understand: Your past set you on a course for your present and your future. Meaning, your past is your advantage and you must learn to use it strategically. You can’t change the past but you can certainly write your future.
“History is being read but it’s also being written by people with imagination.”
– Les Brown
“Your absence helped me grow and begin to understand how to operate, independently.”
“Yes, I wish you would have been there to teach me; however, I learned a valuable skill that will set me up for success.”
“By not warning me, I developed situational awareness and now understand how to mitigate risks.”
Learning how to strategically use your past to your advantage, will ultimately set you up to win. Instead of running from your past, you must learn to embrace the skills and experience it facilitated.
Your perspective is the key. How you look at things, will always change the game.
Be honest with yourself: How do you see the world? Do you see the world through your eyes or do you see the world through the filter society has constructed for you?
How you see the world: Seeing the world through your eyes allows you to produce an opinion or interpretation based on your values. This is the: Eyesight vs Mindsight battle.
Example of how this works:
Friend 1: “Wow look, this conference is offering free food.”
Friend 2: “Yeah but look at that line.”
Friend 1: “Free food is worth it, though.”
Friend 2: “Nah, that line is way too long for me.”
Friend 1 was focused on the fact that the conference had free food. He wasn’t worried about the line, especially since it was free. Friend 2 had tunnel vision on the line of people and not the food. It makes you wonder, what else holds back Friend 2 based on his filter?
How you see the world through the filter society has constructed for you: We are a visual society, especially due to social media and advertisements. Social media will tell you, You should look like this woman. What they’re not telling you: someone took 50+ photos of her and used software to enhance her features. Now, she looks amazing. You think to yourself, She looks great and I don’t. What am I doing wrong?
Social media, advertisements, the media, and people in general are programming us to see the world through filters. Why be authentic when there’s an app for that?
They are also programming you to conform to stereotypes. “We don’t like this particular group. Therefore, if you want to be like us, you need to share the same beliefs.” What happens next? When you see the particular group, you turn on the filter that’s been programmed. (A filter that you agreed to.)
At the end of the day, you are responsible for how you see the world. Before you judge, ask yourself these questions:
How do you respond to adversity? Are you a Resilient person or an Energy Drainer?
Resilient People: Are capable of bouncing back, in the face of adversity. When life is not going as planned, they make adjustments and keep moving forward. Quitting, is not an option.
Resiliency, is a skill. It requires hours, days, months, and sometimes, years of experience before it is achievable. Make no mistake, being resilient doesn’t mean you are invincible. Everything still has a breaking point. You must learn how to identify when you are approaching that phase.
Resilient people understand how to deal with their FEAR.
Energy Drainers: Are toxic people that focus on one thing – negativity. They are incapable of seeing the positive side of their situation. They blame other people for their circumstances.
They refuse to take ownership of their problems because in their eyes, they’ve done nothing wrong. “This is your fault, not mine.” Little do they realize, when they’re pointing one finger, three are pointing back at them.
Fear is a huge contributing factor to their attitude and negativity. They do the exact opposite of Resilient People.
Moving forward, how will you respond to adversity? Which method of FEAR will determine your response?
“You cannot climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger
When people get cold, they’ll do whatever it takes to warm up. Conversely, when they get hot, they’ll do whatever it takes to cool off.
So why is it when people are:
they do nothing to change the circumstance? They know what to do but don’t do what they know. The solution is the same: take action.
Taking action is the only way to move forward. Unfortunately, some people don’t want to move, due to the fear of failure and the fear of success. “What if I can’t handle it?” That fear creates hesitation.
Make a decision and keep moving.
Stop thinking about it and just do it. Happiness, success, and fulfilment are only achieved by action. “I don’t know how to do that,” does not equal progress. You don’t have to know, but you do need to start moving.
Similar topic: Take Action | Talking is not Enough
Have you ever wondered what causes your stress? What about your emotions? Where do they come from? Your mind is a battlefield and the following things are the enemy:
Your ego: Your ego (h-ego or sh-ego) is the voice that tells you, “You’re the best at what you do and you don’t require correction or change.” The problem is, your ego only serves you. Other people, organizations, and businesses are not the priority. Your ego will slowly destroy communication.
Regardless of what you believe or what your peers (the ones like you) keep telling you, no one enjoys arrogant people. Confidence is acceptable. You should be confident about certain things. When you make other people uncomfortable, based on your opinion of yourself, you will eventually find yourself alone on the island that you created.
Lack of empathy: Let’s face it, we are a busy society that I like to call, Instant Gratification Society. We want results and want them yesterday. Because of this, we no longer know how to talk to people. We completely disregard emotions and go immediately after what we want.
Example: “John, why are you so distracted, lately? Your projects are all over the place and the leadership is starting to take notice. If you don’t fix whatever is wrong with you, I won’t hesitate to get rid of you.” Is that being empathetic? Will this get you or other people back on track or make things worse?
Let’s fix this – “John, why are you so distracted, lately? Your projects are all over the place and the leadership is starting to take notice. Is everything okay with you? I’m concerned.”
“No, I lost my father two weeks ago.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Would you like to go to my office and talk about it?” That’s what empathy looks like. This is also how leaders should treat their employees. This builds rapport and will help the organization, down the road. People are people, not a project. Reconsider how you talk to people.
Complacency: “Why should I work on our relationship? We’ve been together for over ten years.” This statement tells one story: I don’t need to worry about us and I’ll allocate my focus on external things.
Complacency is tunnel vision and only exists because you are comfortable. When you’re comfortable, you stop growing as a person and your relationships pay the price, too. What makes you comfortable can jeopardize your future.
Therefore, “We’ve always done things, this way,” will eventually fuel disappointment. You must adapt to your environment, embrace change, and never stop growing. If you’re not careful, you could die via fratricide.
Toxic relationships: These are relationships where two people do not share the same values and because of that, there is a lot of tension and negative energy. The problem is, we’re not always aware that we’re even involved in a toxic relationship. We think, No way, none of my friends are capable of that. Unfortunately, it is possible.
Reference: Toxic People – Take Away Their Power
Toxic relationships will increase your anxiety, undermine trust, and could cause you to question your own judgement. Why do I choose to associate with these type of people? Am I like them? Toxic people are not interested in you. Just like your ego, they’re only focused on themselves and their agenda. They do not generate success and growth.
Bottom Line: If you want to survive daily operations, you must eliminate these things from your life. They do not serve you and if they’re not mitigated at their earliest stages, they could cause:
Win the battle, in your mind.
Are you serious about getting to the next chapter in your life? If so, what steps are you taking to ensure it happens? Here’s a tip: If you’re truly serious about your future, you need to start investing in the following things:
You have to use all available resources to keep yourself moving forward! If you don’t prepare yourself for the next level, how are you ever going to get there? Plus, it’s better to prepare for an opportunity and not have one then to have an opportunity and not be prepared.
“People don’t become successful just by accident.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger
“But it’s too hard,” is an excuse that will not get you to the next level. It is impossible for you to invest in yourself and not face adversity. It is part of the process.
Bottom line: Investing in yourself requires a new version of you, almost every day. You must learn to adapt to your environment. What’s your future worth to you?
Self Reflection: What does it mean to you? Depending on your values, attitude, and daily rituals, not taking time to self evaluate (reflection), could hold you back from making necessary improvements and adjustments.
“Self Reflection is a meeting you should never cancel.”
– Jay Shetty
Self Reflection requires you to always stay humble about your success and accomplishments. You must always take in to consideration the things that you need to improve on as well as what you should sustain.
“Information changes the situation!”
Never forget that arrogance is a fool’s perspective of a falsified reality. “I don’t need to work on anything because I’m naturally talented at everything.” Did someone validate this? How is your ego contributing to your relationships, happiness, and growth? If you’re the best, do you have anything to look forward to? You’ve already projected the outcome…
Complacency is your ultimate enemy because your work is never done! If you’re comfortable, you are complacent. “Listen Bob, we’ve been running this company the same way for five years and so far, we’ve been successful.” How can your company get to the next level, aka grow, if you keep doing the same thing? Is your competitor doing the same thing, too? Probably not. Complacency kills progress. Continue to make necessary and calculated changes.
At the end of the day, ask yourself these 3 questions
1) Did I do my best today?
“Good enough isn’t good enough, if it can be better. Better isn’t better, if it can be best.”
– Rick Rigsby
2) Am I being true to myself?
3) Do I know who I am?
“I am not what I think I am. I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.”
– Charles Horton Cooley
Bottom line: Take your time and trust your heart, it knows what’s best for you even if other people don’t agree with it. Have patience and engage in consistent action!