How to Be a Great Soldier: The Soldier Mindset

Today, I want to talk to you about how to to be a great Soldier. Whether you are in the Active-Duty Army, National Guard, or Army Reserve, I believe this information will be beneficial.

In my opinion, everyone serving in the Army (in any capacity) has the responsibility to be a great Soldier 24/7. Under your own free will, you signed your name to the dotted line on your enlistment contract (officers too). It’s your job to do your best and fulfill that obligation honorably, and to the best of your ability. The old Army saying “Be all that you can be!” rings true in my book.

One of my biggest pet peeves during my time in the Army was seeing so many people try to get by doing as little as possible. They wanted to give minimum input, but they expected the Army to do great things for them. I don’t get it.

I discovered the “great” Soldiers were typically the ones to get promoted, get the best jobs, and get the schools they wanted. And rightfully so. After all, you get out what you put in.

how to be a great soldier

How to Be a Great Soldier

In the paragraphs below, I want to share 10 things you can do to be a great Soldier. I hope you will evaluate yourself in each one of these 10 areas and look for things you can improve upon.

# 1: Develop the 24/7 Soldier Mindset

Great Soldiers remember they are Soldiers 24/7. Everything they do, think, and say is either helping or hurting the military’s image (and their image). Never do anything that will damage your reputation, your unit’s reputation, or the military’s reputation. Always live by the Warrior Ethos and Army Values. Live a good life and be a model citizen. Remember, you are a reflection of the military. People are watching you. Always be professional, reputable, and honest.

# 2: Check Your Attitude

Attitude is everything, especially if you want to progress in your military career. Don’t be a pessimist or Negative Nelly. Maintain a positive mental attitude whenever possible, especially if you are in a leadership capacity. Enthusiasm is contagious. So is negativity. Besides, no one wants to spend time with or hang around a sour puss.

Carpe Diem meaning seizing the day or seizing the opportunity fits in perfectly. A positive attitude encourages you to seize opportunities, including promotion and training programs, because you are more confident to get out of your comfort zone than negative thinkers.

Go ahead, do not threaten, and trust that you have the knowledge and ability to solve these problems in the workplace. If you seize the opportunity, you are more likely to achieve professional success than staying in one place and not taking risks. ~ Jonas Muthoni

# 3: Be a Team-Player

The Army trains, operates, and fights as a team. It’s not about you. It’s not about me either. Do whatever you can to be a team-player. Support your boss. Put the mission first. Put the unit first. Help out your peers, superiors, and subordinates whenever possible.

Help when needed. Great team players take on extra work to lighten the loads of their colleagues. However, there are two big tips to look out for. One is offering unsolicited advice too often, which can be seen as micromanaging or an insincere attempt at ingratiation. The other is taking on too many responsibilities from other people, leaving yourself with no time to complete your own job.

Offer help when you’ve got the time and it’s clear that the other person could use a hand (or they ask you outright). Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. ~ Zippia

# 4: Be Reliable

Be the go-to person. Be reliable. You want to be the person that people go to when they want something done, done right, and done on time. Your boss, your peers, and your Soldiers should be able to depend on your and rely on you. Do what you say and say what you do.

Reliability isn’t just about finishing what you’ve been told to do in a timely manner. More often than not, it also refers to your ability to manage your workload and know when to say no or when to ask for help. It means that both the team and your manager can rely on you to manage your workload and deliver for the business to the best of your ability. ~ Career Addict

# 5: Seek Knowledge

Be a student of your profession. Learn everything you can about your MOS. Learn everything you can about your unit’s history. Study military history, tactics, and military leadership. Keep an open mind and never think or act like you know it all. Be a sponge and learn from everyone you encounter, even if it’s what not to do.

# 6: Show Up Early

Arrive at work early to help out. Get in the habit of showing up thirty to sixty minutes early EVERY work day. This gives you time to prepare. Plus, you can offer your assistance or help to anyone in your chain of command who might need it.

# 7: Do More Than You Are Paid For

If you do more than you are paid for, the Army will recognize it and you will get promoted faster. You will also be presented with opportunities you might not otherwise get. It’s almost inevitable. Don’t wait to be told what to do. Show some initiative and find work! Take work of your boss’s plate and help them out. Stay busy and be productive. Since most people in the military want to do the minimum, you will stand out and shine if you go the extra-mile.

Do more than you are being paid to do, and you’ll eventually be paid more for what you do. ~ Zig Ziglar

# 8: Become an Expert

Your goal is to be tactically and technically proficient. Know your MOS, the Warrior Skills, and your collective tasks. Seek out schools that will teach you new skills and make you a better Soldier. Shine in your job. Learn everything you can about your MOS, duty position, and unit. Knowledge is something no one can take from you. In every job or duty position you have, learn everything you can about it.

# 9: Seek Out New Experiences

We grow outside of our comfort zone. Seek out jobs, duty positions, and advancements that challenge you and make you grow. Don’t always stick to what you are comfortable with. Typically, challenging jobs or assignments force us to grow as leaders and Soldiers.

general patton soldier quote

# 10: Be a Model Citizen

Part of being a great Soldier is being a model citizen. Don’t beat your spouse or have an affair. Don’t drink and drive. Vote. Don’t cheat on your taxes. Be patriotic. Live a good life. Do the right thing. As I see it, being a model citizen and model Soldier go hand in hand.

In closing…

Since soldiers are often entrenched in risky and dangerous situations, they must subscribe to the philosophy that no one is left behind. Therefore, good soldiers must possess courage in their own abilities to protect and defend and fearlessness to trudge forward when faced with danger to secure and safeguard fellow soldiers. Battle zones and war bases prompt good soldiers to be disciplined when faced with orders, fearless when entering combat and diligent to follow through with direct commands.

Consistency is also an important quality of a good soldier. Soldiers must learn how to complete tasks proficiently and in a consistent manner to ensure policies and procedures run smoothly. For example, if a soldier is assigned to inspect equipment, that soldier must stay consistent with the procedures outlined by the commanding officers or branch of service to ensure the safety for the troop. Peacefulness is another important quality of a good soldier. The strain and stress of combat can drain soldiers mentally and physically, so maintaining a peaceful mindset helps them cope with the stress and continue to serve their country with a clear mind. ~ Reference.com

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, these are 10 tips on how to be a great Soldier. Many of these things are easy to do and easy not to do. Whether you plan on leaving the military after your initial enlistment, or making a career out of it, following the advice listed in this article should make your military experience more satisfying and more successful.

What are your thoughts? What tips can you share on how to be a great Soldier? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.

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  5. Top 20 Most Needed MOSs
Sincerely,
chuck holmes







Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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8 thoughts on “How to Be a Great Soldier: The Soldier Mindset”

  1. This is all great advice for both military and for civilian workers.

    One that is of utmost importance is never saying no to your boss. Following orders is the sign of a good soldier. Whether it is cleaning toilets, digging a hole, or anything else, do it as if you are doing it for yourself, or someone you care about deeply. This will show, and rewards will come.

    I am also very strong about being to work early. I find that here in Puerto Rico where I reside now, many people have a “late to everything” attitude. It behooves them when I show up early, but it has changed a few attitudes near me. I will keep this ethic and will not allow the majority to change it. That is what good soldiers do too. Do what is right, not what everyone else is doing.

  2. Theresa Williams

    These are fantastic tips for success in any field of work, but especially in the army or military. I think the hardest is number three: doing more than you are paid for. In the army and military, it can feel like you do this even by doing just barely more than the minimum! And it can be especially hard if the unit has poor command or morale. But this is where your goals come in to play. Do you want to be a great soldier? Do you want to advance in the military? If you’re not a “lifer”, what skills and experiences do you want to gain from your military experience to take into civilian life? When you start asking yourself questions like this, more often than not, you’ll find that you want to be a great soldier and that will, in turn, make it easier to do more you are paid for, or any other tip or task that would normally take a lot out of you.

  3. I notice a trend in this article: do more than you are paid for, put your Unit first, support your boss, help your team members, volunteer. All of these pieces of advice hinge on the idea that your own development and progress is an indication of how helpful you are to those around you. Sometimes, before you help can yourself, you need to consider all the others around you. Don’t be self-centered, the Military doesn’t work that way. Support the people around you and you will be recognized and rewarded.

  4. I'm going to start with something you mention in the beginning of the post. Doing as little as possible: I didn't see this as much on active duty, but in the Reserves I've come across it, I assume because it's a little easier to hide. If you supervise someone like this you have to put the squash on this early.

    I'll point out two things on the list. Get to work early: A simple thing, but you'd be surprised how few people show up early.
    Master your craft: You should learn what your job is as soon as possible. Seek out Subject matter experts and find out what they do and learn to do it as well if not better. Become the expert people are looking for.

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