There is a paradox in being a Veteran. The paradox that we face is that we are immersed in a world where we are awarded for the things we “do”. First of all, this paradigm is not introduced to us in boot camp. This way of thinking was introduced to most of us at birth. This is the mentality that most people are used to living by and naturally have passed on from generation to generation. The military culture simply intensifies that sense of belief. Let’s be honest, just because you have X amount of awards, X amount of stripes and rockers on your collar, X amount of ribbons and medals, and X amount of training — do you think you are going to get any job when you get out of the military? There are a few exceptions, but many times the answer is no. We have to set our expectations realistically and we ought to change the mentality that working long and hard is going to get us what we want. Hard work alone is not enough.
The “Do. Have. Be.” Mentality
Think about it — in the military, there is certain criteria and requirements to be met to be promoted. Whether it personally serves us or not, these requirements put a “check in the box”. This check-in-the-box mentality doesn’t serve us in the long run. The training that is required may have good content, but how much of that will I retain if all I care about is fulfilling the requirement to get promoted? It is subtle but that mentality messes us up when we get out because that’s all we know. We expect a checklist to be given to us saying, “this is what is needed to be successful”. Many of us get out, and have no idea what to do. We get out and we start doing guess work. We get stuck in the “do”. When we get stuck in the “do”, we put ourselves in a vicious cycle — the cycle of “Do. Have.Be.” This means the more I do, the more that I have, the more that I become.
Let’s put the mentality of “Do. Have. Be.” in a very simple scenario:
“I want to be successful. And to be successful means that I drive a 2017 BMW. So once I have a 2017 BMW, I will be successful. For me to get a 2017 BMW I must get a master’s degree, that master’s degree will get me a good job, and I’ll have to be with at job for X amount of time and move up X amount of positions. And once I get a certain salary, I will be able to purchase that 2017 BMW.”
This is the story that most of us play in our heads for whatever it is we want. Replace 2017 BMW with whatever it is you want. What happens in this way of thinking is that we get stuck in a loop of never being satisfied or never being good enough. This way of thinking anchors the meaning of success to what we have done and what we have. After so much hard work and time and I finally get that 2017 BMW — what happens? My jerk friend gets a 2018 BMW. All of the sudden, I’m stuck wanting more because a 2017 BMW is not good enough — meaning I’m not good enough and I’m not successful. Now you might be thinking, “well people should just be thankful with what they have.” This is also true, except that mentality is a band-aid to a bleeding issue that your brain is not willing to accept. You’ll be thankful, but you’ll tell yourself to just work more and work hard and you’ll get that 2018 BMW. The “Do. Have. Be” should be changed to “Be. Do. Have.”
“Do. Have. Be.” in the Military
Some of us had it right before we went to boot camp. But once we got to the fleet, we were told otherwise. When I joined the military, I wanted to become a Marine. To me, being a Marine meant I get to do what Marines do and get what Marines have. Being a Marine meant I get to travel the world, I get to experience special training, I get to have adventures, I get to wear a badass uniform, and I get to have the girls attracted to me. These are the things that the recruiter promised me, but that’s a different story. Fortunately, I have been lucky but some Marines have not experienced the same fortune. The point is that I went to boot camp to become. In my heart and in my head, I was a Marine. So I did what Marines do and go to boot camp. Once I did the crucible, I got my eagle globe and anchor (EGA) and I had what Marines have. Once I finished boot camp I have the uniform that Marines have. And now that I had the title, I got to do what Marines do — travel and adventure. But that mentality was broken within the culture. We’re told that we ain’t shit unless we’re deployed. We’re told we ain’t shit unless we have a combat action ribbon. We’re told that we ain’t shit unless we’re a Sergeant. We’re told this and that and we get stuck on being told what to do and “carry out the plan of the day”. We get stuck in the culture of “go go go”.
So here’s a common story of what happens:
I’m told that I am not a real Marine unless I get deployed. Shoot..ok, well I guess I have to wait until I get deployed. 6 months later I go on a deployment to Iraq. After 6 months in Iraq, I come back. Now I must be a real Marine, right? No — I’m told that real Marines have a combat action ribbon (a CAR). So I guess I need to go on another deployment. I wait another year before my unit gets deployed. After 6 months in Afghanistan and multiple “gun fights”, I come home. So now that I have two deployments and a CAR. I must be a real Marine, right? I’m told no; real Marines have been shot and have a purple heart. Shit, now I have to go on another deployment, get in a gun fight, get wounded and then I can be a real Marine.
The cycle continues and goes on and on. It’s never enough. And when we get out of the military, that mentality is stuck with us. Some of us actually are embarrassed of our service because we start to compare ourselves with each other. Some of us did not have the opportunity to deploy and we discredit the service we gave to this country. The title of Marine bears different weight. But in reality; it shouldn’t. A Marine is a Marine. A Soldier is a Soldier. Put any branch of service in that context. We are service men and women that sacrificed our lives and well being in support of defending our country.
The “Be. Do. Have.” Mentality
When we start with being, we have already won. We end the loop of trying to do and to have. It’s a simple switch of thinking but it means so much. It gives a sense of freedom and relief. Just because I switch the thinking, doesn’t mean I have everything. My current reality doesn’t change. I don’t magically have a 2018 BMW. But I’m not stressing about what I don’t have. If I first am being a successful person, I am going to do what successful people do and I am going to get what successful people have. My focus is on my being. If I am not where I want to be — I ask myself, “Who am I being? What are the results of my way of being?” If I am producing results that are not ideal, I change my way of being. Am I being confident? Am I being pro-active? Am I being a leader? Am I being successful? If I am not — I simply change my being. But I’m never focused on what I don’t have. I stop comparing myself to other people. I stop having thoughts of feeling insignificant. I stop having thoughts of feeling like I am not enough. I stop caring about things and focus on my way of being around others. Am I being a good friend? Am I being a good Uncle? Am I being a good businessman? Am I being a good leader?
In the “Do. Have. Be.” mentality, we get stuck with getting permission to do something. Many of us get out of the military, and going to school is the first thing on our list. Going to school is not bad thing, but many of us go for the wrong reasons. For example, some of us get out and want to own a business. So what do we naturally do? We go to school to get our bachelor’s, but we tell ourselves that it’s not enough and that we need a MBA to own a business. And after 3–5 years and getting a MBA, we still get stuck on the mechanics of starting a business. We let pieces of paper give us permission to do something. The reason for going to school should be to give you the necessary tools and knowledge to be applied to what you want to do — not to give you permission or a gateway to do something. I know plenty of Veterans who get a master’s degree and still don’t know what career they want. If we just start with the being, you can save much time and headaches down the road.
Who Are You Being?
Again, this mentality is not going to make every negative thing in your life go away but it may give you half a chance to getting what you want. And a half a chance is much better than no chance. 1% of transformation applied 365 days of a year will transform you 365% in one year. First, who are you being? Second, what does that way of being do? And third, what does that way of being have? The power is not in the answer you give but always in the question. “Who are you?”