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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