Living around and working with Marines, I was used to seeing people come and go. As a Marine, you don’t control your career. The Marines Corps does.
As a manager of Marines, I had to accept and plan for unexpected arrivals and departures. There was no negotiating or “2-weeks notice” – you just responded to your customers’ needs with whatever resources you had on hand at any point in time.
That was part of why I had a job. Many military bases have civilians that provide continuity in the midst of constant personnel changes.
In the private sector, individuals can come and go as they please. Whether it is within a company or outside, employees can pursue new opportunities and basically control their own destiny.
Once I moved to the private sector, I started seeing trends in what motivated employees to make a change. Too often, I saw folks run away from a current situation, rather than run towards a new opportunity. If the job they are running from is from within my team, well, I want to know about it.
I was shocked this week to find that an expression I have used for decades is not widely known and understood. The only way something becomes an “expression” is by being mainstream and generally known. While this may be true, it looks like some of the expressions I have used for most of my life are only mainstream in military circles, and may not be known to the population at large.
When I started working with non-military personnel, I quickly gave up some of my traditional military terminology. I now say “floor” instead of “deck” and “door” instead of “hatch”. “The head” was changed to “the restroom” and “hit the rack” became “get some sleep.” I will still call something a “hooyah” when I can’t remember the term – as in “that hooyah over there” – but for the most part, my military expressions are a thing of the past.
A few facts about me before we begin…
1. I am somewhat obsessive
2. I love movies
3. 1+2 = a need to watch the same movies over and over
My husband used to love Star Wars. Then we got married and the fact that I love the original (A New Hope), and can watch it any time day or night, basically killed it for him. When my son turned four, I couldn’t wait any longer and started letting him watch the movie. He will watch the same movies over and over, like mom, and I missed having a movie buddy. Lest anyone be completely horrified, I do hide his eyes at certain points.
As a project manager, I find Star Wars particularly fascinating. There are many lessons embedded in the storyline of what to do, and even more on what NOT to do, as a project manager. Today, I thought I’d share my views on General Tarkin, the only guy other than the Emperor to give Darth Vader orders.
Several years ago, I went back to a job I was familiar with. Until that point, it was all about moving up as fast and as far as I could go. Then something amazing happened. I became a mother and realized that whatever fulfillment and challenge I get from my work, it is nowhere near as important as what my son needs from me to grow up.
I remember the moment vividly. We were only home for a few weeks before I was reengaging with colleagues and chomping at the bit to do some work. If I didn’t, I was fearful that I’d be speaking baby talk for the rest of my career.
I was on the phone, trying to wrap up a conversation, when my son pulled on my pant leg to get my attention. Keep in mind he was 8 months old, had known me for all of a few weeks, and was in a completely new place with new people. I should not have been working, but – hey – no one is perfect.
I recall being frustrated because I just wanted to wrap up the call, and then I would give him all the attention he wanted. I looked at him – really looked at him – and my entire life changed. That was the moment that I realized he needed me more than I needed work. I never imagined that day would happen.
I am a type A, overachieving workaholic. I love what I do and – before that day – work gave me a sense of completion and fulfillment that I had not received anywhere else. You could not have paid me to give up working.
Then I had my “a-ha” moment. I would never be the same. I got off the phone and focused on my son. I worked when he napped and slept (which was a lot) so that I could extend my two month absence into three. And I got a call out of the blue from my old team that would change my life. “Will you come back?”