20 things the military taught me

I spent a year in the military right after high school as do most men in Finland. People often tell me they found the experience to be unecessary and pointless but I don’t think so. I went through officer training and learned a lot about not only defense strategies and coordinate calculation but also about leadership, other people and myself. Here are some lessons I use in everyday life:

  • Never ask someone to do something that you’re not willing to do yourself.
  • As a leader, if something goes wrong, you must acknowledge your responsibility. Blaming someone else will not make it better and you will look bad.
  • No excuses. If something goes wrong and you’re responsible, you accept it, learn from it and move on.
  • Never make anyone feel bad in front of their friends or colleagues. In fact, don’t make anyone feel bad. Life is tough as it is.
  • People always have a reason for behaving the way they do. Most often it’s because of fear or past experiences.
  • Always be prepared and in time. It’s the things that you don’t plan that are most likely to happen.
  • Accept the fact that you often only know half of what’s needed for the task at hand. Trust your peers to know the rest.
  • Trust people to deliver. As a leader you can only offer advice, support and direction. The rest is up to them.
  • There’s nothing cool about guns. Cannons on the other hand..
  • When you think you’ve given all, there’s still some more in you.
  • There’s always another way to get the job done. Bending the rules is often necessary.
  • Punishing the next generation because you were treated badly by the one before you is a cowardly act. Only you can break the spiral.
  • Keep the promises you make. You can build trust for ten years but lose it in a minute.
  • Things could be worse. Don’t make it worse by complaining.
  • Repetition makes master. You won’t see that until after you’ve mastered it.
  • Say no if you don’t get it. There’s no shame in asking for help.
  • Make sure that people understand why you’re doing what you’re doing and how they play a part in it. This is the fundamental part of teamwork.
  • Things work best when you got the right person in the right place. Everybody’s good at something and giving them a shot at proving it will make them great.
  • Don’t blindly accept that things are done in a certain way because that’s the way they’ve always been done. Change is good and there’s always a better way.
  • It’s just a series of small steps. You’ll make it there.

(This post was written and illustrated using only my iPhone)

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