“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”-GK Chesterton
The longer that I'm removed from my military service, the easier it has been to reconcile what I went through and how I feel about it all. I'm more partial to that quote than to the go to John 15:13 verse that is thrown around all too often around this time of year. I've stood shoulder to shoulder and laid down rounds to provide cover for teammates and I have relied on those same guys to cover me. It's truly a unique situation when you trust another person with your life...I mean your survival depends on their abilities and actions...let that sink in...if they don't do their job, it can cost you your life...and if you don't do your job, it can cost them their life.
I think about working as a civilian. If I don't do my job now, our timing could be delayed or at worst, a product launch is delayed. If one of my coworkers doesn't do their jobs, the consequences are the same. My life isn't in their hands and vice versa...but imagine if it was. How much attention to detail would be put into our jobs? Would that effect the amount of time that we spend online or on social media during the day?
I know it's hard to love your job (for most of us) and I know that it can be hard to like coworkers at times, let alone love them. For most of us, our company's bottom line isn't going to make or break us, so it can be hard to find motivation to be great at what we do when it isn't going to have an affect on your bottom line. So here's some homework for you...empathy.
Each day, I want you find one person and think about what it's like to be them. Maybe talk to them and learn a little bit more about them. Think about what they are going through, at work, at home, and think about what effect that you have on them. You don't have to like them or even get along with them, just try to understand them and how you fit into their world. Here's why...this is something that you might not understand about veterans because veterans find community with each other and everyone thinks of being a band of brothers or being a tribe or whatever you want to label it. We didn't like everyone we served with. In fact there were people that we absolutely couldn't stand and would curse their existence. For every great leader, there were several bad ones and for every great person you had under you, there was always at least one who couldn't tell their right from their left (there's more colorful terms and phrases to describe those people and every person who's served is saying it right now and shaking their head because they are thinking of that one guy that was in their unit).
If you start to understand the people you work with or interact with on a daily basis, it's going to help you along your journey. Practicing empathy, gratitude, and keeping yourself grounded are another part to your path to change. If you are looking to starting to incorporate this, an easy way to do this is to download the app, Headspace. This is another great resource to help you, not only practice empathy, but gratitude as well.
As we move into the holiday season, think about who's in your squad, who's in your platoon, or who's in your unit. You don't have to be best friends with them and you don't have to agree with their opinions or views, but try to think about things from their perspective. Your life may not depend on them and vice versa, but trying to understand them will definitely help the way that you interact with them on all levels.