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Three Things the Military Taught Me About Business

Three Things the Military Taught Me About Business

Three Things the Military Taught Me About Business

I joined the military just out of high school and in 1996 I retired after 22 years active duty. In that time I served in both the Army and Air Force. I married a wonderful woman; we had two sons; I graduated from college, and became a commercial pilot. All in all I believe we did quite well.

During those 22 years of service I learned three lessons that have helped me in both my life AND business.

From the moment our drill instructor chased us off the bus at Fort Ord, California, our leaders taught us to discipline, teamwork, and focus.

LESSON ONE: Discipline

Military discipline is more than marching with a group of soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines. It’s also more than mindlessly following orders or spit and polish.

Discipline is getting up every day and going to work when you’ve had a hard day the day before. It’s putting the needs of the greater good ahead of your own. Discipline is working a ten to twelve hour day, going to four hours of school and getting up the next day to do it again. Discipline is the heartache of missing your child’s appendectomy because you’re called to do your duty.

And so it is in business. We develop the discipline to get up every day and provide a product or service to our customers and clients. We work a ten to twelve hour day then spend hours working on books, learning marketing, sales, management and anything else that will move our companies ahead.

And yes, in business, sometimes we need to miss that which we hold dear to provide for our families and employees—for the greater good.

LESSON TWO: Teamwork

No man is an island. In the military we rely on the persons beside us and behind us. Armies have, for centuries, won wars as teams or lost them without teamwork.

The best businesses and business owners have learned that by working together, employees, owners and managers achieve much more. The entrepreneur who discounts working with employees soon finds herself frustrated and alone. Keep this up and pretty soon she’s out of business.

Teamwork doesn’t mean giving up control. It does mean listening and learning from the people we work with and for. Oh yes, that includes customers. In fact, one of your best teammates SHOULD be your customer. Hand-in-hand we can give our clients a better experience, fulfill their needs, and at the same time grow our businesses.

Teamwork in the military taught me to work with the most diverse group of individuals in our nation. The US military is a microcosm of our society. It’s comprised of men and women of all races, colors and creeds. If we can work as a team in the military; we can do it in business.

LESSON THREE: Focus

Not just any focus; focus on the destination. Knowing where you’re going—what are your business goals, means you’ll know your focus.

You’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again—YOU MUST HAVE GOALS in your business.

No military campaign or battle can be won without a clear objective (goal) in mind. The allied powers won defeated tyranny because they had clear, definitive objectives. Lack of clear-cut objectives will hurt us in the long run. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN WITH YOUR BUSINESS.

Discipline, teamwork, and focus; three lessons from my military experience that have helped me in business. You don’t need to have military experience to put these three lessons to work.

Have the discipline to set goals, learn more about your business, and business in general. Work with your employees and customers as if your life depended on it (your business life DOES depend on it). Know your near-term, mid-term, and long-term goals for your business. Know where you want to go and you’ll get there.

Put these three lessons to use in your business and see what a difference it makes.

 

 

Keith is the resident writer and troublemaker at Empowered Pros.
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