There is a paradox in being a Veteran. The paradox that we face is that we are immersed in a world where we are awarded for the things we “do”. First of all, this paradigm is not introduced to us in boot camp. This way of thinking was introduced to most of us at birth. This is the mentality that most people are used to living by and naturally have passed on from generation to generation. The military culture simply intensifies that sense of belief. Let’s be honest, just because you have X amount of awards, X amount of stripes and rockers on your collar, X amount of ribbons and medals, and X amount of training — do you think you are going to get any job when you get out of the military? There are a few exceptions, but many times the answer is no. We have to set our expectations realistically and we ought to change the mentality that working long and hard is going to get us what we want. Hard work alone is not enough.
Focused on "Doing"
We are often told that the harder you work, the more you're going to get. That is half true. I encourage you to reframe that statement. Doing more is an endless cycle. We are never satisfied. When we receive what we want from doing, we celebrate for a moment, but then it's not enough. There are other scenarios where we get what we want from doing, but then a circumstance, someone or something takes it away from us - and then we're left with dissatisfaction and frustration of not having what we want. It's the "do-have-be" mentality. If I do, then I will have, so that I can be.
Here's an example of what I mean. The corporal rank was my most least favorite rank. I wanted to pick up Sergeant as soon as possible. And with my old way of thinking, I started doing the things to become a Sergeant. I started doing the things that my leaders said I should be doing as a Corporal. Even though it didn't fit my personality type, I did Asshole things to my Marines. I acted like the Pitbull for my Sergeants, who told me that that's what it takes to be a Sergeant of Marines. I started yelling more, I started to acting more aggressive, I started doing and doing.
Working hard was also in my doing to get promoted. And in fact, working hard and beyond the call of duty got me awarded a Navy Achievement medal. I felt good cause I was doing great things. I felt ready to be a Sergeant. And after 4 years of hard work, it finally paid off. I picked up my 4th stripe. I can now be respected more as a Sergeant. At least those we're my thoughts. Picking up Sergeant really felt no different from the rank of a Corporal. Yes, I had more "privileges", but the respect from my Marines was no different. The respect from my leaders was no different. I still was boot and needed to do more. So I went into another vicious cycle doing to pick up Staff Sergeant. And guess what happened when I picked up that rocker? Back to the cycle to do it all over again. It never ends and you're never satisfied. And the respect I wanted wasn't changing with the rank. It's a shift in the mind that makes all the difference. It's not what we do, but who is it that we are being.
Focused on "Being"
Being focused on who we are being does two things. 1) It creates consistent congruence with who you are. Most people compartmentalize their professional beings and their personal beings. When you do that, you confuse the mind on who you really are. 2) Nothing can take away from your way of being because it starts with you. No circumstance, no situation, no person, not one thing dictates on who you are being because you are the one that chooses who you are being.
If I am being a leader of Marines, I get to do what leader of Marines do, and I will have what leader of Marines have - which to me was respect from both my subordinates and senior leaders. If I start with being a leader, the how in the doing will come naturally. And I will have what it is what I want. And even if maybe I get chewed out by higher leadership or one of my Marines on my platoon screw up or show insubordination - that doesn't make me a bad leader. If I'm being a good leader than I will take ownership of what is not working and coming up with a solution to the challenge. If I have integrity with myself, then I will strive to be a good leader of Marines. With starting with your way of being, you break the vicious cycle of endless and unsatisfying doing.
Decide and Execute
You always have a choice in whatever you do. You can choose to decided if this is full of crap or choose and decide the possibility that this little mind-shift change actually works. Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I have seen it and experienced it countless times, where leaders do not take ownership of who they are being. They are focused on the doing and their team, their personal family, and the individual them-self is affected by it. It creates incongruity. They run around doing and doing, trying to satisfy everyone and trying to make and do things perfectly and in the end - it's unsatisfying. I have seen it in others where they are not excited for their promotion because of the amount of work that they know will just add on to their stress.
Let's be clear here, I am not saying to not give a damn about your work and to just get relaxed. What I am emphasizing is that the constant doing of things is not what's going to get you what you want. The doing doesn't define who you are. It's your way of being that defines you. And you always have a choice to your way of being. YOU choose who you are being. Even your results of your actions, doesn't define you. The results of your actions is your current reality. It is feedback for you to figure out what's working and what's not working.
Who do you choose to be?
Read my article below on Thrive Global for a deeper explanation of Being vs. Doing.