Tag Archives: purpose

Do You have a Clear Image of Your Future Life?

How to Reinvent Yourself as a Successful Civilian

2-½ minutes to read

When a service member tells me he’s leaving the military I ask him what steps he’s taken to prepare. “I have to get my resume together.” Then I ask him where he wants to work. He gives a generic answer rather than specific companies. When I ask what he wants civilian life to be like you can hear crickets chirping. The confused look on his face says he hasn’t thought about it at all. Imagine getting the order to launch an attack before getting your objective. Can you say useless effort with collateral damage?

Do You have a Clear Image of Your Future Life-

Your Past Is Not Your Destiny

Remember the film epic Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World? Starring Russell Crowe, it brought the British Navy adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin to the big screen. The movie is fun to watch. But it ignores the common characteristic that drove Aubrey and Maturin. Both faced many transitions.

The author of the Aubrey-Maturin books knew something about transformation. Most people know Patrick O’Brian as an Irishman experienced with square-rigged sailing ships. Neither of these facts is correct. Richard Patrick Russ was English by birth. He grew up in poverty and unhappiness. Rarely did he set foot on a ship.

After World War II, he decided to change his life. He began by creating Patrick O’Brian, an expatriate Irish writer living in the south of France. His legal change of name took a few months. Realization of his new persona took decades. Through decades of writing, he developed a reputation for mastery of nautical matters.

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On his death in 2000, the world eulogized the Irishman Patrick O’Brian. People accepted his tales of experiences on sailing ships. All despite reporters having uncovered his secret years before.

A Clear Image Will Drive Your Transition

O’Brian should be a mentor for every veteran. During World War II he stopped identifying himself with who he didn’t want to be. Coming out of the war he created a compelling self-image. He spent the rest of his life engaged in making it a reality.

Although O’Brian’s first marriage ended in divorce, he prized marital harmony. He was loving and attentive to his second wife. Hard work made his 53-year marriage happy.

He believed in the benefits of an intellectual life. Writing, books, and learning had inestimable value. He had only middling financial success for most of his life. But O’Brian and his wife enjoyed what money he earned and shared simple pleasures with friends. Financial success did not come until well into his eighties.

Like O’Brian, you have the ability to transition out of the military into the civilian you want to be. Without a well-defined mental picture to pursue, other people will direct the steps you take. But once you create a self-image, your transition will stay on target.

You can:

  • Focus time on getting a job at an organization that fits who you are.
  • Be clear about the new friends and colleagues you want to have.
  • Know where to spend your time to have the life you that will make you happy.

Follow Patrick O’Brian’s, ne Richard Russ’s, example. You don’t need to change your name. Nor do you have to get a divorce. Fulfillment begins with the intentional crafting of the civilian you’ll be and the life you’ll live.

What is your priority for having a happy civilian life?

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Are You Ignoring the Truth about Professional Success?

How to Change from a Military to Civilian Mindset

2 minutes to read

The unexamined life is not worth living ∞ Socrates

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Come on, don’t roll your eyes. The image staring back stands between you and everything you want in life. Is it professional success, a stronger marriage, closer relationships with your kids? You can have them all when your purpose includes being the preeminent professional, a devoted spouse, and an engaged parent.

Are You Ignoring the Truth about Professional Success?

Migrate Your Purpose from Military to Civilian

Each service branch creates an image of the people who serve in it. The Marine Corps has been especially effective doing this. You’ve heard of “The Few, The Proud.”

You may not have realized it at the time. But basic training aligned your purpose with that of your service branch. A lot of the ongoing training you received reinforced this purpose. Indeed, many veterans never alter their military mindset.

Have you chosen to keep your military identity without any changes? If so, you’ve made reintegrating into civilian life harder. Many private sector organizations indoctrinate their employees with a purpose. If you join such a company, you’ll have a choice:

  • Conform to its purpose.
  • Underperform in the eyes of the people you work with.

You may think leaving your purpose open gives you a better chance of finding a job. Actually, doing so forces you to be a chameleon trying to fit the image of each potential employer. But your words won’t ring true. So you’ll get rejected for the job anyway. If by chance you do get hired, you won’t be happy because you’ll have to pretend to be someone you’re not.

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You’ll be better off finding your purpose first. Then identify organizations where you’ll fit in.

Purpose Leads to Professional Success

Are you a Marine, an Eagle Scout, or a Christian? If so, you’ve already set part of your purpose. Each carries a set of values and a way to behave. Now consider whether you need to add to your purpose or modify it.

If you don’t have a pre-existing purpose, you’ll have to start from scratch. Though it sounds morbid, how do you want people to eulogize you at your funeral? Write it down. Convert it into the roles you need to fill and the qualities you must develop.

Without a clear purpose, you have no basis for personal development. Your life will stagnate. Yet you need to grow to meet the challenges of reintegrating into civilian life. When a company defines who you are, professional success will elude you.

So define your purpose. Then cultivate the traits necessary to better harmonize with this self-image. For example, do you see yourself as a successful entrepreneur? Build a mindset of perseverance.

No matter how clear your purpose is in your mind, you must encapsulate it in one coherent sentence. Then read this sentence every morning. That way you indoctrinate yourself. Now you won’t waver in the face of temptation from an organization or job where you’ll be miserable.

Do you have a mindset that will lead to civilian professional success?

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How to Breakthrough the Fog of a Transition

Why You Must Discover the Genuine You Now

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayechi – Genesis 47:28-50:26

Have you noticed the longer a colleague stays in the military the more his identity merges with his service branch? Leadership encourages this in the interest of esprit de corps. As you move on from military service have you shifted to a civilian outlook? If you see yourself only as a veteran it’s going to be a tough transition. Take an object lesson from Parshas Vayechi:

“A lion cub is Judah… The scepter shall not depart from Judah….’” (Bereshis/Genesis 49:9-10)

How to Breakthrough the Fog of a Transition

This Sabbath’s parsha concludes the book of Genesis. Jacob was near death. He asked Joseph to swear not to bury him in Egypt. Rather, he wanted to be interred in the cave of Machpelah in Canaan with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, and Leah. Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons Manasseh and Ephraim, thereby making them in effect of his sons. Then he blessed his own sons, though some of the blessings sound more like reprimands.

All Egypt mourned Jacob, testifying to his greatness. The grandeur of his burial procession impressed and scared the Canaanites. After his father’s death, Joseph assured his brothers he forgave them. He lived to see his great-grandchildren. Before he died, Joseph asked his brothers to bring his bones with them when G-d brought them out of Egypt.

The stage is now set for the enslavement of the Israelites and their redemption.

Judah’s Unique Blessing

Only three of the twelve sons got a blessing that dealt with his character and future impact on the Israelites. Jacob pointed out Issachar’s stubbornness. But he predicted he would teach the Israelites G-d’s laws. Jacob described Dan as a serpent and a viper (ouch!). But he appointed him the avenger of the tribes.

Both sons take a hit on character. But Issachar will turn stubbornness into tenacity. And Dan will bite only the Israelites’ enemies.

In contrast, Jacob compared Judah to a lion cub who will grow to become an “awesome lion.” With the character of the king of beasts, Judah inherits the mantle of kingship over Israel. None of his brothers received the double blessing of outstanding moral strength and leadership.

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After Jacob’s death, Judah alone continued life with an unambiguous purpose and mission.

Uncertainty Comes from Lack of Purpose & Mission

When I was seven years old I got a fortune cookie warning me to beware of becoming a jack-of-all-trades. Almost 50 years later I still struggle at times with staying focused on my purpose and mission. A shiny opportunity will flash before my eyes and before I know it I’m off chasing it.

Many people equate the two. But as you saw in the blessings:

  • Purpose describes your traits and character, who you are as a person.
  • Mission tells how you will impact the lives of other people.

They support each other. Your mission should grow out of your purpose. Notice the relationships between the two for Issachar, Dan, and Judah. You may struggle with a trait, such as stubbornness. But you can make it useful for achieving the right mission.

Choosing a mission out of sync with your purpose will cause frustration. Issachar’s inflexibility prevented his being king. Before you choose your personal mission, get clear on your strengths and weaknesses.

Leaving the military necessitates changing your mission. You won’t be on the front lines “support[ing] and defend[ing] the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic….” Your purpose will have to change as you transition your identity from service member to civilian.

Step one on your reintegration agenda requires that you uncover your purpose and mission for civilian life. No other accomplishment will have a greater impact on your future happiness and success. Get started now.

Question – Have you taken an inventory of your traits and characteristics?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more bout? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

Conquer This Obstacle and You’re Sure to Succeed

How to Crush Your Biggest Transition Challenge

2 minutes to read

Where do you want to triumph this year? Among the big three of health, finances, and family, which is most urgent? You want to pick all three, don’t you? I get it. How can you say you want to make your health your top focus? Isn’t family the most important? They bore so much neglect when you were on active duty. Are you going to prioritize your career over them now? Your mind tells you one thing. Your heart draws another conclusion.

Conquer This Obstacle and You’re Sure to Succeed

You Cannot Have Multiple Priorities

Though I left active duty in 2012, I went back on long-term orders during 2013 and most of 2014-2015. Each time my business training veterans to find high-paying jobs suffered. At the end of 2015, I had to make a choice. Was I going to take orders and continue helping active-duty shipmates? Or should I to commit to my business?

My heart pulled me both ways. My head was equally undecided. After weighing the short versus long-term consequences of each option and the impact on my health and family I opted for my business.

That decision did more than set a career path. It united mind and heart.

Fortunately, my health is good. But my family takes a hit. I can’t homeschool my daughter. My wife and I don’t have weekly dates as often. I’m away from home more.

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I could pretend to have two or three priorities. But that’s the same as not having a priority. You have to sacrifice to conquer this obstacle.

Conquer Fogginess First

If you want to triumphantly reintegrate into civilian life, you’ll have to align your heart and mind to crush your lack of focus.

You know your health and fitness undergird everything. Compare how you look now to a picture of you in uniform. Try on your uniform. Give yourself a physical readiness test. If you’ve forgotten the standards you can find them online.

Are you noticeably heavier? Can you pass the test? If you answered no to either of these questions you have your priority for this year. Accept that finances and family will take a hit.

If health isn’t your issue, examine your finances. Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Are you putting money away each month for a rainy day fund? If you don’t have a pension, are you investing for retirement? If you answered no to any of these questions, your priority is finances. Sit down with your family and talk about sacrifices for the coming year.

If both of health and finances are good, you can focus on family.

Now, Identify the main change you need to make. The foundation of good health rests on proper sleep, diet, and exercise. Stronger finances require a better job or starting your own business. Durable family life means developing your interpersonal skills and investing time in relationships.

Your biggest transition challenge comes from a lack of clarity. Crush the vagueness. If necessary. deal with the impact on your family. Now relentlessly pursue your priority.

Which of the big three is your priority this year?

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On a Mission . . .

Do you have a defining purpose to your life? Does it motivate you to enthusiastically get out of bed each morning looking forward to the day’s activities? When your time on earth is just about done will you feel your life was worthwhile because you pursued this mission?

On a Mission . . .

One of the great aspects of the military is that no matter what our rate or rank we begin our service by dedicating ourselves to a mission: To support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . . This statement gives purpose to everything we do. When we experience the searing heat on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea during combat ops or have to de-ice that same flight deck to conduct humanitarian assistance operations in the northern reaches of Japan, we have a reason to endure the harsh weather and the punishingly long hours.

Why Will You Do What You Do?

So too in your life and business, you need to have a mission. Non-profit organizations learned this long ago because they have to motivate their workers, especially volunteers, to commit to a purpose and devote time and money to its fulfillment. The United Way provides a good example.

For-profit businesses can reap tremendous benefits from the same clarity of purpose. The mission statement for my company is: to help veterans secure a share of the American dream they fought to preserve.

Notice that this is not a goal per se. While it is written down, there is no objective to reach or time limit by which it is to be reached. Once you have a mission for your life and/or business, it becomes the litmus test by which you decide whether a particular activity or goal is relevant and purposeful.

A mission statement should be an expression of your most important values because if the two are in conflict you will be working at cross-purposes. Yet, if you are unclear about your morals it may be difficult to create a compelling mission statement.

5 Steps to a Personal, Business, or Family Mission Statement

Here are the steps for writing a mission statement:

1. Make a list of your five most deeply held values

Be careful not to mistake political positions for values. Look at why you have a particular political belief to determine the values the underlie it. If you need some help getting started check out this list.

2. Write down your elevator pitch

This is a brief explanation of what you want to do with your life or what your business is and does.  So called because you can deliver it in the length of an elevator ride. Harvard Business School has a website to help you build one.

3. Use your values to describe WHY your business does what it does

Write a paragraph with each sentence addressing how one of your values relates to your life or business. For example, if you are starting a plumbing company and one of your values is being thrifty, one sentence of your paragraph might be about providing the highest level of service at the lowest price.

4. Edit your paragraph to one or two sentences

Work on combining the essential idea of one sentence with that of another. Sometimes a single word can replace an entire sentence. For example, in my mission statement the value of “taking care of G-d’s children, especially my fellow service members” is expressed with one word: help.

5. Let it sit overnight then edit it

Once you have written your mission statement put it away until the next day then review it. Edit ruthlessly. Say it out loud. If it does not flow well keep working on it. Try using a thesaurus to find variations of words that express your thoughts more accurately. If you get stuck, set it aside overnight again. You may have to do this several times before you develop a compelling mission statement.

When you have completed your mission statement read it periodically, every morning before you begin work, or each evening when you plan your next day’s schedule. Even when you have it memorized, refer to it in written form. Its impact is greater.

Where are you stuck figuring out your personal and business mission?

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