By Kelly Vandever
One of the things I secretly love (well, not so secret now that you’re reading this) is when I’m in a public gathering and for whatever reason, someone asks the military veterans in the room to stand and be recognized.
OH MY GOD, I LOVE TO STAND AND BE RECOGNIZED AS A VET! Yes, I’m extremely proud that I served my country…but I also dig that I’m one of the few…and sometimes the only…woman who’s standing. The look on my face is a combination of pride and how-cool-am-I-?!
The day-to-day of my military service was awesome. I have great stories from my bootcamp experience. I learned a ton about the world of work. I experienced first hand what it means to be a leader and a follower in all the best sense of those two words.
But as proud as I am of my service and as grateful as I am for what I learned, I haven’t shared a lot of stories about my military experience in my keynote speeches. My colleagues in the Georgia Chapter of the National Speakers Association
ask me “Why aren’t you talking about your military experience in your speeches, Kelly?” They can’t believe that I’d leave out such a big part of my life and an aspect that differentiates myself from other speakers. Why haven’t I been sharing my stories? Because they weren’t badass enough.
Not Bad@$$ Enough
When you think of military service, what do you think of? Weapons? Combat?
I was in the Navy. What do you think of now? Ships? Airplanes?
None of those words are part of my military experience. My Navy service was pretty boring. My jobs were primarily human resources positions. No offense to the HR folks reading this, but military service doesn’t sound so sexy when you spend it doing human resources work. When Desert Storm started, one of my neighbors asked me if I’d be deployed. My reply was, “Only if they want me to inflict severe paper cuts.” For a military officer, my job wasn’t very badass.
Are You Not Bad@$$ Enough?
Isn’t that true of a lot of us? Don’t we sometimes feel like someone else has the sexy, glamorous jobs? Don’t we sometimes think, “That department has it made,” or “It would be easy for me to love my job if only I worked for Google?”
Regardless of where you find yourself, whether through design or through dumb luck, recognize that your job makes a difference. The job wouldn’t exist if it weren’t important in some way. Every day you can make a positive impact on the people you work with and the customers you serve.
Make a Difference Where You’re At
I was a good Naval officer and a good leader. I took my job seriously and worked with my people so we could all do our jobs to the best of our abilities. We did a dang good job taking care of people’s pay records, getting their travel claims processed, updating their personnel files so they could sit for rating exams, completing their recruitment paperwork, finding the medical professionals who would treat military personnel, and on and on. The people in the high profile military jobs needed the work we did so they could do their jobs.
How do you make a difference where you’re at? How does your role play into the bigger part that is the mission of your organization? We all have our parts to play. And when we play them to the best of our ability, we help everyone win.
Rock Your Unglamorous Work!
Go forth and take pride in your less than sexy work! Plaster on your own how-cool-am-I-? face. Recognize your self-worth! Know that what you do matters!!!
Kelly Vandever is a leadership and communications expert who helps leaders and organizations thrive in today’s attention-deficit, entertain-me-now, wait-while-I-post-that-on-Facebook world. Connect with Kelly and discover how being professionally human can bring you better business results.
Contact Kelly by phone at 770-597-1108, email her or tweet her @KellyVandever.