The challenge soldiers face every day is how to make an impact when there is so much to be done, there is not enough time or resources to accomplish everything, and the environment to accomplish the missions is changing, dangerous, and unknown. These challenges of peril, time constraints, and change are not unlike what we face daily in all our lives regardless of age, occupation, socioeconomic status, and geography.
Soldiers have determined how to mitigate these daily challenges by running towards the danger, solving problems, leading others, and responding positively to change. There are six attributes that we can take from soldiers and incorporate into our daily lives that focus on action, awareness, performance and leadership to make our lives better.
1. Exercise. Exercise is the start of a great day. Exercise is anything that challenges you, gets your heart rate up, makes you sweat, focuses your intensity, and makes you look forward to doing it the next day. Exercise is walking the dog, doing pull-ups on the monkey bars at a local park, or working out at the gym. Exercise is first in your day because once it’s done, you take the feeling of accomplishment and enthusiasm with you throughout the day. Soldiers always use the morning to exercise.
2. Lead. Leading both yourself and others is the next most important task of the day. At work, at school, in your family, and throughout life, every person is a leader even if they do not have an “official” team assigned. A leader looks to organize to the most important tasks. A leader takes care of others while still accomplishing the mission. A leader sets the example for others and chooses the “right” action even when no one is looking. Society and business need more leaders that “act” as leaders as opposed to the multitude that “appear” as leaders. Great soldiers, no matter their role, always lead.
3. Confront. Confrontation is a strong word but a vital and powerful focus for daily tasks. Confrontation is saying “No!” to the continuation of major problems and stepping in boldly to solve those problems. Soldiers constantly seek to find and to solve the most pressing problems that are reducing the effectiveness of the team and impinging on mission accomplishment. Confrontation is vital for an effective day because you must seek to identify problems, test and create solutions, and then implement the solutions. Great soldiers use an initiative based mindset to seek, to confront and to solve problems.
4. Respond. Plans, schedules, and well-meaning charts never work out 100 percent — that is the nature of the world. Soldiers are unsurprised by changing conditions and seek to respond proactively and with initiative to surprises, competitor actions, and new information. As with confrontation, a focus on response makes you a leader and a contributor because you are responding to changes and threats. Waiting idly by for instructions, or worse, ignoring the threat are actions that cause missions to fail. Changes happens and the best plans go awry. Great soldiers seek to respond immediately and effectively to changes.
5. Teach. Soldiers are teachers and great soldiers are incredible teachers. Teaching is a commitment to making the future better and a commitment to helping the younger generation be better than yourself. Soldiers know that injury, promotion, and orders may take them from a leadership position at any moment. Therefore, the best way to prepare soldiers and the team is to teach and train everyone to learn new skills, be better leaders, and be ready to move up into a more important role. Few leaders in any organization realize the importance of teaching. Soldiers know that teaching is a core foundation of being a great soldier.
6. Improve. A simple daily commitment to get better at just one thing is the foundation of an improvement ethos. Look around any U.S. Army base and what do you see? Soldiers running, mechanics fixing vehicles, sergeants teaching units of soldiers how to shoot better, and soldiers in a classroom learning about different cultures. A U.S. Army base is literally as focused as a college campus on understanding and improvement. Great soldiers know that they are never done with their skills. Great soldiers always improve.
Do the best you can and do the best you can every day to live your life as a soldier. Soldiers know that some days are better than others, but each day offers the opportunity to be an even better soldier, a better leader, and a better servant leader to the country.
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Chad Storlie is an adjunct professor of Marketing at Creighton University, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces Officer (Green Beret) with 20+ years of military experience, and an Iraq combat Veteran. He has 13 years teaching experience at the university level and nearly 20 years of corporate marketing, strategy, Customer Experience, and advanced analytics experience at General Electric, Manugistics, Comcast, and Union Pacific Railroad. He has published more than 320 articles across 160 separate publications, including the Coeur d’Alene Press and North Idaho Business Journal.