Memorial Day brings back many memories of people I’ve known that served in the military. Many of the best mentors I had were military veterans that served both here and overseas. Most have given much to serve and sometimes we forget how much we owe these fine men and women. Veterans and their families make many sacrifices for our country. So how can we entrepreneurs salute our veterans?
There are four key principles I’ve learned from the veterans I know. They have helped me through times of great change and challenge in my life and I believe they can help you navigate the changing times we live in today.
The first principle I learned was the only easy day was yesterday. Taught to me by a former Navy SEAL, it was critical to understand when dealing with people who are suffering from many different injuries and fatal illnesses. When working with people in nursing homes and hospitals, I would help patients remember their better days and times. It also provided comfort to many to be reminded of those important times and events in their lives.
I learned there are two kinds of tears for people who are terminally ill or injured; tears of fear and tears of joy. I found this statement to be a great source of healing for the many people I worked with at the end of their lives. Help people find joy in their past and they will find peace in the present.
The second principle I learned is that I am responsible for my own life. Spend time with enough vets that served on the front lines and you learn they are willing to take responsibility for their actions. They don’t say it was someone else’s fault, they take ownership of their own decisions. This strength helped propel many of these men and women to future success in the world. Because so much of your time in the military is based on continuing education and training, it equips them to overcome many things that would stop a normal person in their tracks. Learning and self-development helps these people to continue growing and evolving.
The third principle I learned is there is no I in team. All of the people I’ve worked with in the military are strong team players. This doesn’t mean they aren’t stars in their own right, but they are very capable of working and leading high performing teams. Every person on this team knows their role and those around them. When something goes wrong they are capable of making split second decisions to ensure their team’s objectives are achieved. Having clear results-driven objectives are critical to a team’s ultimate success.
The fourth principle I learned is it’s better to dodge a bullet than take one. I spend time helping veterans getting used to being home and I always share this principle when helping vets deal with others. There are many people who fear and don’t understand you. They don’t understand the discipline or courage it takes to leave your family and friends behind to serve your country. The problem is most of them don’t have the nerve to tell our men and women of the military this. They find all kind of reasons not to hire our veterans. These people are afraid of the power veterans possess and they fear what they do not know. I tell our vets that they are better off working for someone who can honor your past while helping you towards your future.
Now what can you do as an entrepreneur as we get ready for this Memorial Day? You can decide to give veterans a chance at a job within your organization. I’m not saying just hire them. I’m saying evaluate them the way you would any other potential person for the job. You may be surprised by the qualities veterans bring to your team. Unless if you are a veteran yourself. Then you already know what they bring!
You might want to take into consideration how much we have invested in their skills and leadership in the military. My bet is they can make major contributions to your high growth business. Entrepreneurs are the growth engine in our society. You can try to understand that what motivated them to serve our country may help them serve your business, as well.
I know I’m asking for a lot from you, but I know you won’t let me down because many of you have served, as well. Remember what it was like when you came home and pursued the American dream. Give this next generation of heroes a chance to excel. You’ll be glad you did. Have a great Memorial Day with family and friends and remember why our society is still free and we are still the home of the brave. In this way, entrepreneurs can salute our veterans this Memorial Day and beyond.
Article originally appeared on Developing Serving Leaders
See you next week!