I’m not a millionaire but I do have a military mind-set. It’s been a while but I still remember boot camp. It’s an experience you never really forget. I enlisted in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. My reason for enlisting was to get away from the assembly line in Detroit MI. I had worked my first summer job and liked the idea of having some spending money, so I thought it would be a good idea to get a job on the assembly line during my last semester in high school (second shift).
My best friend also enlisted, but because he was a couple of years older he was drafted in the Army and sent to Vietnam. When the government sent me my draft notice, I showed them that my paperwork was in order, and I was due for basic training in Texas. Three months after high school and I was off to basic training.
Typically a person who causes problems are let go – given a dishonorable discharge and sent home. Pat was given an option, which most people weren’t. When he decided to stay he was tested to see if he made the right decision. It was a defining moment for him to see if he would prevail.
Maybe in the back of his mind was all the things he had already survived. He mentioned that most of the people who made it to the Harvard Business School had some kind of ‘extreme hardship’ for a year or two before they made it there. Pat had survived hardship in Iran, war, refugee camps, divorce of parents, and running the streets.
These are the 19 military lessons he learned.
- Manage Chaos. Many things happen at the same time, but you must learn to stay in control. Military training is where you learn to condition your mind and body. The ‘low crawl’ under barbed wire in mud is real. It’s part of the confidence course for a reason. One mistake and you are done. In business it’s not life and physical death but the death of your enterprise.
- Mission Driven. The military is always about mission. It’s complete the mission whatever it may be, and take care of your comrades while you are at it.
- Limited Resources. It’s get the job done with the resources you have. In business, it’s figure out what you need to do, without all the money.
- Multi-task.In the military you must do many things, to last. In business you need to hold on until you can hire others to do some of your tasks.
- Perform under pressure. What do you do, when your performance is on the line? Some do fine and others get left behind. True leaders are born under fire. Decisions under pressure determine the measure of the whole man: integrity and character always matter.
- Manage Risk. In a combat situation bad decisions can results in defeat or death. In business bad decisions result in the death of your enterprise or defeat of your mind.
- Thick skin. In the military you must learn to deal with all kinds of people. In basic training the drill instructors stay in your face, to see if you will crack. Over time you learn to deal with sarcastic people. In business if someone says no, don’t take it personal. You can’t please everyone. On the internet a ‘like’ does not mean everyone loves you or your idea. Move on to whoever is next.
- Build a tribe. In the military you build “esprit de corps”. In business you want to build community of like minded people.
- Leadership. In the military it’s lead, follow or get out of the way and don’t delay. If something happens to your superior, you must be able to continue the mission.
- Learn other cultures. In the military people, come from many cultures for one cause – to serve. In a global economy it’s helping people all over the world and making a profit for your goods and services.
- Adapt. As I moved from assignment I had to adapt. I had a very unique military experience. I enlisted in the Air Force and was commissioned in the Army. As a Quartermaster Officer I dealt with civilians who had many years of experience. In Germany I had host Nation employees, civilians employees and military personnel.
- Survivability. In a military environment it means to be mission capable after an single engagement. In business it’s surviving a major lost.
- Independence. This is where you are able to do it alone. I always felt the going into the military makes you grow up fast. The military trains young men to become warriors. We get involved in war games, but it’s not play.
- Strategy. What is your primary objective? What is your long term goals?
- Health. You can’t continue to fight, if you are not in condition.
- Preparation. You must study and read, if you want to lead.
- Paranoia. Enjoy your victories but always be aware.
- Work Ethic. Be prepare to work or stay home.
- Discipline. It’s not easy but if you have the discipline you will continue the fight.