Let’s start this string with something we might not always think about at the beginning of something — the end.
Key transition points in one’s life, career, education, begin with “the end” of something else.
The end punctuates the experience to a certain defined point and marks the beginning of the next phase. Transitions are sometimes subtle and at other times abruptly noted (positively or, unfortunately, negatively) by graduations, ceremonies, or processes directed by law or regulation.
It’s not lost on me that the first impression is lasting. No doubt. The end, however, is meaningfully final and, in our business — it can be a crucial moment.
As leaders, in our own time, of a sophisticated force so steeped in tradition and deeply rooted in long history, we should pause a moment to understand how critically sustaining our impact on “the end” can be…
THE TASK: Leaders. Take a few moments to assess how we set the tone for punctuating the end of a Soldier’s time in uniform. We are wrapped up in the daily effort of tasks aimed at mission accomplishment. With the distractions of the daily effort, how well are we doing at accomplishing this critical part of our mission?
Think a few minutes about the following leader challenges. How will you tackle each of these scenarios? I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Critical thinking is the goal. Show your work. No points are awarded for “the answer”, but the thinking leading to your answer is where the lesson will be found. For brevity, pitifully little information is provided – so goes life. This is what you have to work with, but it’s enough to facilitate the discussion…
Scenario 1: MSG Smith is retiring after 24 years of service. She has deployed twice. She served four years on active duty as a Marine before joining the Guard. Once a “lock” for first sergeant, she was injured in a car crash last year and is now non-deployable. She recently decided to retire “to keep from blocking someone from a promotion.” Her last drill is in three months.
Scenario 2: SPC Jones served six years and is reaching his ETS. He joined for a $20,000 bonus and the GI bill. He earned his college degree and has decided he has gotten all he wants out of the Guard. His unit was called forward for a deployment to Iraq, but he was in AIT then. His MOS required a long AIT and a long ASI producing course. No known deployments are on the horizon. Leaders have tried unsuccessfully to retain him and he’s decided to leave. This is his last drill weekend.
Scenario 3: 1LT James has been passed over for promotion. He did not complete his bachelor degree and by regulation must be discharged. Leaders have exhausted all efforts to seek waivers to no avail. Soldiers respected him and many say they will miss him. “Who writes these rules?” they grumble. “With his job and the deployment, when was he supposed to go to college?”. His last drill is next month.
What do you think?