In this post, I'd like to just share some independent thoughts on the true value a military person brings to the civilian workforce. You have secrets that you know that nobody else knows about. I'm talking about skills here. I'm talking about those special, unique things you can do that may or may not appear on a resume. This is the stuff that set you apart from the others in the group. These are the things you exhibit lots of "mojo", "swag", or "mad skillz" in. The things you can do without a doubt, and outshine anyone.

Independent thought takes guts! Your decision to fly with eagles rather than cluck with the ducks is your own. You can choose to "dumb it down", "sandbag", or "lay back" or you can choose to set a new standard of excellence. Seriously. Known for writing all those fables you read as a kid, Aesop said it best:

"Don't let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth - don't let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency."

So, what does all this mean? I think that in order to fulfill your dreams, goals, and career aspirations, you need to set the bar high. You've had some of the highest bars set while in uniform so that idea should be second nature to you. But, you've definitely observed, experienced, and can easily identify that gnawing, annoying, and unfavorable thing called complacency. It's that "7-0 & Go" mentality (meaning that 70% effort is good enough.) It's that "cooperate & graduate" mindset that sets the bar too low for what you really want.

How do we avoid such average or below average experiences as a civilian? I believe you need to look at what the military has already taught and prepared you for.

In the military, you have the best training anywhere hands down. For you, a series of conference calls and webinars won't be enough. You'll be a like a sponge trying to soak in all the knowledge and training you can. And, since a "do-it-yourself" approach is taken due to budget cuts by some companies, you won't hesitate to conduct a "hip-pocket training" class even if only for yourself.

In the military, you learned to take action even in the absence of orders. Your "when in charge, take charge" approach served you well. If you encounter a lot of red tape or an intense bureaucratic process, you'll already know how to navigate through all this and get things done. And if there's no identifiable process at all, you develop one! Can you say Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)?

In the military, you're taught to know, trust, and take care of your Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs). Their wisdom (and wit) kept me out of trouble and taught me a lot. I had some great ones! Raise your hand if you have a story about how important Officer/NCO interactions play an important role in everyone's success. In the civilian world, you'll be able to easily identify the equivalent of an NCO. We're talking about the person that knows virtually everything going on at the company. Sometimes this is an informal leader who can make things happen. Cross them, and you might have a rough time of it. Develop a good relationship with this person, and you'll "fare well", instead of farewell.

In the military, you learned how to conduct yourselves as if lives were at stake. To me, this was the single most important thing to keep in mind. The utmost priority in the military is to safeguard those you serve with as you protect the Nation. Always remember that.

But, my hope is that your military experience - whether you served in a war zone or not - lends itself to continue to serve others before self.

May you always conduct yourself in such a way that you display not only integrity, but your special character and values. Set yourself apart from the average and strive to do your best!