What I Learned in the Army
By Jeffrey Morgan
At my first permanent duty station in the Army, I was assigned the task of putting on a training session for the large Military Intelligence Company I was assigned to. My platoon sergeant suggested I check out a training film for the event and I followed his advice.
I was all set. I had everything ready, did a short introduction, and started the film. A few minutes into the training, the film burned up in the projector and I was standing there like a doofus without a Plan B. I was counting on the film to take care of the training session and the technology let me down.
It was a humiliating experience that shaped the way I have approached work and life ever since. I was jeered and taunted by my colleagues for weeks – until some other unfortunate soul screwed up publicly and had to bear the brunt of everyone’s ridicule. The army isn’t a touchy feely environment and humiliation is a standard component of the training and behavior modification process.
My first inclination was to blame my platoon sergeant for not mentoring me on how to do the training, but I quickly came to the realization that I owned it.
Here’s what I learned from that experience and four years in the Army:
- Always have contingency plans; Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. The more the better. Things rarely work out the way you expect them to so be prepared for Plan A to fail so you can jump right into Plan B.
- Accomplish the mission. Do whatever it takes to get the job done.
- Take ownership. If you screw up, fess up. Immediately. Don’t blame anyone but yourself for your failure. Blame is never productive; finding solutions is.
- Always do the best possible work you can whether the work is mopping the floor, cleaning your weapon, or developing plans for a major operation.
- Make your boots sparkle, keep your uniform pressed, and keep your hair cut short. Appearance matters.
The next time I was tasked with a training presentation, I sat down and read the Army Field Manual on training. Yes – the army has a manual for everything. I spent several evenings putting together the presentation, making flip charts, studying the material, and practicing my presentation. Instead of jeers, I got compliments and questions on how I did such a great job.
Jeffrey Morgan is President of e-volve Information Technology Services, LLC and has provided transformational business and technology services to County and Municipal Governments, Small to Large Businesses, and Non-Profits since 1993.
Copyright © Jeffrey Morgan 2016