Like anything in life, there are always going to be benefits and drawbacks. The military is no exception. The military can be efficient, but it is far from perfect. Every branch has its different functions and place in the bigger picture. Every branch is top notch at what they do, but infallible they are not. Plenty of mistakes get made and the consequences can be anywhere from mild to severe. There is one thing that they have down well. When it matters most, when it truly counts, the military has absolutely nailed it when it comes to the “We, not me” attitude. Esprit de corps is strong in every branch.
Every rule has its exceptions, and this rule is no different. You will encounter selfish, reckless, narcissistic people who care only about themselves and will do whatever it takes to look out for number one. This is a truth of life. Fortunately for us all, this is not always the case. I have worked in many different environments. Customer service, administrative, corporate, loss prevention, and I was even a barista at one point. All of these had their ups and downs. The military had its ups and downs too, but the bond shared between members was a bond that will never fade. Here I am, nearly a decade later, and I keep in touch with many of the men and woman I served with.
I have yet to encounter any environment that is free of people that don’t have a personal agenda. The military is filled with organizational politics and behind the scenes goings on. Most people navigate their service with honor and integrity, but there will always be someone that has their own best interests at the forefront of their every action. When you encounter those people, it is unfortunate, and it has a negative impact on your view of the organization. People want to advance and there are plenty of members who do not care about the wellness of others, especially if it gets in the way of their advancement.
This is one of the times where you need to pick your friends and mentors carefully. You may not get to pick your unit or leadership, but there will always be somewhere you can go for trust and guidance. The military is full of honorable men and woman who chose to serve for the right reasons and in a way that improves the lives of the people around them. These people are courageous, selfless, noble, and not difficult to find. If you know what you are looking for, these are the people you want to stick close to. These are the members that embody the “We, not me” mentality and encourage it in others.
You might be wondering what they look like or how they behave. There is no rule book on it. You need to trust your instincts. Look for the members that understand that mistakes will be made and use them as a training opportunity, rather than an excuse to yell and shout at someone. Look for the members that show you the way, rather than just tell you what to do. Look for the members that make sure those below them eat first, rather than use their rank to ensure that they get to eat first. Pay attention to the charisma of those around you and you will feel it. Learn from these people and you will see that attitude is the best path for success.
If you embrace this mentality for long enough, you will find that it is difficult to ever feel any other way again. The family feeling of the “We, not me” attitude is addicting. It is a healthy addiction. Do it enough and you will start to notice the people that do it for you. Regardless of what you believe, there is such a thing as karma. I have seen it at work many times. I have even been humbled by it on many occasions. Learn to look out for those around you and they will start looking out for you. Someone must take the first step. Try, at every opportunity, to be the taker of that first step. Others will follow.