Today, I want to share some of my best tips on what you can do to make the biggest difference while you are serving in the military. These are all “little” things you can do to positively impact your unit, the people in your unit, and the greater Army as a whole. These tips are listed in no particular order.
# 1 Be a Team Player – Regardless of your rank, you need to be a team player. That means that you do what you can to help your team succeed. Even if you are the boss, in charge of lots of Soldiers, remember that you have a boss and that you are part of someone else’s team too. Take care of your own team and do what you can to help your superiors.
# 2 Take the Jobs That Match Your Skills and Strengths – We are all wired differently and have different strengths and skill-sets. One of the best things you can do is figure out what you bring to the table and seek out jobs that correspond with your own strengths. You might naturally be a staff officer, or a doer, or a technical person, or instructor, etc. I’ve found that we naturally excel in certain jobs, if they match up with our strengths.
# 3 Keep a Positive Attitude – Attitude makes a huge difference. Do what you can to put a smile on your face and keep a positive attitude. This will have a big impact on the people around you. No one likes a sourpuss or someone who is negative all the time.
# 4 Do What You Can to HELP Others – Ultimately, life is about helping others and building relationships with others. Do what you can to help your boss, your peers and your subordinates. Be a servant leader and make sure that everything isn’t about you and your own personal agenda. Place the needs of others first. Invest time in building strong professional relationships and helping others develop their own potential.
# 5 Be an Independent Thinker – If you want to make a big difference in the military, you need to be a maverick and think outside the box. By all means, please follow your orders. But don’t be a “yes” man all the time. Trust your instincts, make your own educated decisions and do what you can to be different than everyone else. We don’t need another robot.
# 6 Be Mission Focused – Make the mission your # 1 priority at all times. Whether you are a janitor or a Commanding General, your job is important. Take pride in what you do and do your job to the best of your ability at all times.
# 7 Spend Time Developing People – If you lead others, help them reach their true potential. Counsel them. Send them to schools. Invest time teaching them new skills. Help people get promoted. Remember that one of your biggest jobs as a leader is to develop future leaders for the Army.
# 8 Wear the Uniform with Pride – Remember that you are part of something much greater than yourself. The military and Army have proud traditions, customs and courtesies. Millions of people have served before you, and many of those folks made the ultimate sacrifice. Never forget that. Be proud to be a Soldier, even if you don’t want to make a career out of it.
# 9 Keep Getting Better – Make it a point to constantly learn and develop new skills. Try to get a little bit better every single day. Master your technical and tactical craft. Attend military schools. Read books. Learn from your mistakes. Find a mentor. As the old Army saying goes “Be all that you can be.”
# 10 Be a Role Model – Always lead by example and be a role model for others to follow. Set a strong personal example. Wear your uniform correctly. Live by the Army values and warrior ethos. Know your job. People are always watching you, even if you don’t realize it.
These are just ten things you can do to make the biggest difference while you are in the Army. Your primary objective is to be good at what you do, to make those around you better, and to get the mission done. Follow these ten tips and you will be well on your way.
What are your thoughts? What do you think people can do to make the biggest difference while they are in the military? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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7 thoughts on “10 Ways to Make a Difference in the Army”
I think that there are many ways that military personnel can make a difference in the Army and even out of it. I find it really admirable when a military official steps out of his daily duties and volunteers his or her time to help those in need. There are so many benefits for volunteering and helps an individual to see things from the perspective of the less fortunate.
I also like your #8 point – Wearing the Uniform with Pride. What our Soldiers are doing for country is so recognizable and our family tries to thank them any time we see them out. Today being Veterans Day, we make a point to thank Soldiers who are in their uniforms out and about. As a Soldier, it so important to wear the uniform with pride because he or she is representing our Constitution, our country beliefs, our people, and what this country was founded on. Holding your head high and being proud of where you came from and the freedom you are fighting for is so crucial! Thank you Veterans for your service!
This blog and the one I just read about networking, to me, are the two most important of the many topics I’ve read about on your site. They’re so foundational that all of the other stuff builds on top, the skills, the school, the life decisions, choices about who and where, history, command, etc. Without the right attitude, without maturity, there’s little chance for success in anyway. And even if you still get promoted, still get good evaluations, you won’t be having much fun getting there.
Making a difference is about taking the time to invest your time and energy to help people get better. The Army is a people business, and your job as a leader is to take care of and develop your people.
I particularly like #5…so true. I think many civilians fail to realize that one of the U.S. military’s great strengths is the initiative and creativity displayed by its members. The old Soviet army was so regimented that only officers were given maps, and in armor units only the platoon leader’s tank had a radio–the other three tanks were expected to just follow the lieutenant. (What they were to do if the lieutenant’s tank took a sabot round is a very valid question.) One officer whom I have known for years and who was my PL at one point has privately expressed to me his sole criticism of another, more senior, officer who shall remain nameless: the fact that the officer in question is too much of a “yes man” who doesn’t question anything coming down from higher even if it’s a bad idea.
I met a lot of “yes men” in my career and it was one of my biggest pet peeves.
There’s a lot to be said about putting other people first when it comes to having a satisfying and fulfilling career. Whether that career is in the Military or civilian world. Always doing your best, in whatever role you’re filling at the time, shows that you’re willing to go the distance for the benefit of the group. This sets the example of excellence for the rest of the group to meet, or exceed.
I can’t preach enough that every job, inside the military and outside of it, is important. People should take pride in what they do and realize the job doesn’t make the man, the man makes the job.