A brand new experience begins. You wake up early and feel the urge to run a few miles. If you decide to do that, absent is the familiar sound of someone calling cadence as you run. There's an old favorite cadence that you can somehow still hear. Maybe you decide to utter the words softly as you run. "Left, left, left your right your le-eft!"
When you finish your workout, you have tough decisions to make. Like, "What am I going to wear to work today?" Not having had to ask yourself that question while serving in the military is just part of preparing for your first summer as a Civilian.
Thus begins your transformation into the Civilian World. It may seem odd at first. This feeling might linger on seemingly endlessly like a typical Monday morning run. It might take a while to get adjusted to this, but things can get better every step of the way.
As a newly crowned Civilian, you enter into a new scenario that's quite unfamiliar. Depending on where you now work, you might find it similar to venturing into a foreign land. The people around you speak differently, dress differently, and act differently. You might have trouble communicating in terms they understand.
What's more, you may have gone from managing and leading large groups of people to managing just you and your daily tasks. Your military career involved responsibility for millions of dollars of equipment, yet today you sit in front of a computer screen worth hundreds of dollars. And, maybe when you entered the room while in uniform, people snapped to attention or saluted or greeted you with a formal military-style response appropriate for your rank and position. Yet as a Civilian, maybe you heard a simple "Good Morning!" or maybe nothing at all.
The speed at which you make the adjustment to life after the military is crucial. But, this time these adjustments take on a different approach and a different feel. You see, when you first entered military service, you really didn't know much more than you were told from others who went before you. Reality set in once you hit that first day of training. It doesn't matter if you were Enlisted or an Officer, you got to experience a wake-up call!
Now that you're out of uniform and into civvies, it's time to pay attention to your latest wake-up call. Gone are the screaming Drill Instructors. Gone are the endless physical fitness activities designed to wear you down before building you up. Gone are the feelings of esprit-de-corps you're familiar with. Gone is the type of camaraderie you once enjoyed. Being called by your rank and last name? Gone! As a Civilian, it might take a while to get used to being called by your first name. When hired, you probably earned a nickname and didn't even know it. That nickname is known as a "Development Candidate". You're new, you're unproven in civilian circles, and your new employer hopes to develop you into a leader someday!
I challenge you to pay close attention to your civilian surroundings. Get to know the civilian culture. Watch and learn who the power players are at work. Figure out how the civilian version of chain-of-command operates. Find a Mentor. Take all you learned in the military and apply it strategically and appropriately in all you do. Think about what the ideal military unit felt like. What was it about that unit that brought out the best in you? Now, take some time to familiarize yourself with what makes this civilian company the ideal place to work, just like you did at your best military unit. Then strive to create the best civilian experience possible for yourself. But, just remember it is the civilian world and it is different from what you're used to. Remember, you have 2 ears and 1 mouth so it may be a good idea to do twice as much listening as talking for a while.
What experiences as a new Civilian do you have to share?
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