Success. This word conjures up different things to different people. Bookstore shelves filled with published works written by authors willing to share their success tips. Your military branch of service provides periodic meetings to help you become more successful. The top brass or top stripes share their wisdom and experiences in an effort to help you get ahead - and stay there!

What does success look like?

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the pursuit of the "#1" position so much so that when you don't come out on top, you lose sight of the remarkable things you accomplished along the way. Being on top is great! Sometimes the experience is like going from "zero-to-hero" (not that anyone's a zero, it's just a phrase I use to describe the journey) due to the number of obstacles you had to overcome in order to get there. At times, you may feel as though you had to fight every step of the way to make it to a specific level of success.

On the contrary, going from "hero-to-zero" can be tough. The times when you seemed unstoppable came to a screeching halt. That award you thought you were going to get never got pinned on you. The recognition you thought you deserved went to someone else. Your extra hours, sweat-equity, late nights & early mornings resulted in somebody else winning the prize. You thought you fought the good fight and deserved first place, only to see someone else come out on top. Some sort of adversity just set you back. My hope is that you'll always consider these events as momentary setbacks and temporary situations you will always bounce back from.

Do we really need to lose so much sleep over such things? I guess it depends on how you're wired.

Let's take football as an example. Stats can be found for passing yards, rushing yards and receiving yards, and you can probably name the quarterback, running back or receiver for several professional football teams. You can watch the highlight films on the sports channel and see these heroes of the gridiron. You can buy cereal and spot their faces on the front of the box. You can buy name-brand sporting goods with their number emblazoned on it. The long list of wide exposure and success goes on for those who throw, run and catch a football.

But, can you quickly name the center, left tackle or guard for the same team? Probably not!

So, that brings me to the point of all of this. Behind every well-known person is a long list of people responsible for getting them to the level of success they enjoy. These unsung heroes make things happen without the glory afterwards. Everyone is important to the success of any team - even those who get little or no recognition. Your military career is full of success! Whether you lead thousands, hundreds, double-digits, less than 10 or just yourself, your actions and individual success help the rest of the organization succeed! You may not have noticed it yet, but rest assured you have made huge contributions even though you may not have your name in lights, in print or otherwise out in the public eye. You need to recognize that you've accomplished extraordinary things against some incredible odds, challenges and circumstances. It doesn't matter what rank you hold, you are a success!

Challenges exist in the civilian world too. These challenges come in different forms, with different people, with experiences often vastly different than that of military service members. So, I'd like to encourage you to give yourself the credit you deserve.

You can be the next success story following your military-to-civilian career transition!