This week saw the demise of Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister. So the race for a new PM is underway. One person I would like to see step up is Ben Wallace due to his military background and military mindset, and I firmly believe that’s what this country needs right now.
However a recent piece in the economist wrote about why former army officers struggle in politics. The reason was that in our modern world, people don’t do what they say they will do or, when asked to do something, won’t do it without questioning why is a notion that military figures are not used to. This applies to any serviceman in a management role, not just officers.
From random shouts to unanticipated attacks, the military mindset is all about preparing for the unknown. In military lingo, this is called ‘Situational Awareness’. Basically, it is the ability of your mind to pay attention to what’s going on or happening around you.
My Military mind
A company currently employs me in a management position. I have a role and a set of responsibilities. I also have a small team of people I am responsible for (thank god they are veterans).
Like all companies, they have a strategy, and I have a set of task-based on that strategy that my team and I work hard every day to achieve and deliver. These tasks are always delivered in a timely manner as per the senior management requirements.
Do I think every decision that the company makes is correct? Of course not. Do I consistently deliver what I am asked to deliver? Of course, because at the end of the day, that Is what I am paid to do. I am not paid or qualified to work out company strategies, so I leave that to those who are. But they pay me to do a job, and I will do that job to the best of my ability.
There are, however, people who will listen to the demands from above and decide if they will follow those orders. Some will even decide to do something completely different or question why the management has chosen this route. This is not only alien to me but is guaranteed to get me angry, significantly more if one of these people directly impacts the work I need to deliver.
What does it mean to be military-minded
Through targeted training and real-world experience, the military mind emphasises the “permanence, irrationality, weakness and evil in human nature”. The military mind is suspect of human cooperation and sceptical of change. It is more focused on vice than virtue.
An excellent article to read is “The military Mind in the Age of Innovation.”
A military mindset does not need a constant pat on the back with a “good job” comment. The pink and fluffy blankets are happy to go on the fire, and the truth will be spoken.
If you ask for our opinion, you will get it. It will be the truth, whether good or bad. I do laugh currently when I am asked about something, and after giving my truthful opinion, I end up with some snowflake telling me that I am “a bit negative” then I have to listen to how many times and ways they can use the word “challenging” to disguise a bad job, bad management or lack of ability.
I am sure one day, one of these “challenging” snowflakes will manage to get my old ass fired. Until then, they can listen to the truth when they ask for my opinion on something.
5 ways to build mental toughness
Here are some ways you can build and achieve mental toughness. You will need this to achieve your goals and live through the toughest moments in your lives.
I have said this before. Life and the world does not owe you anything. The world is a mean and harsh place. You need to be able to stand on your own two feet.
1. Find Your Why!
- If you want to push yourself to achieve new heights of personal development, you must find your why or your ultimate goal in life.
- What drives you to get up each morning?
- Your driving force to live?
- To achieve anything else, you need to understand this and make sure you figure it out.
2. Get out of your comfort zone.
- Some of us are blessed with relatively good lives. We’ve forgotten what it means to struggle and test ourselves with the elements and fate; one solution is to put ourselves into unfavourable conditions.
- David Goggins a US Navy seal is an extreme example, as he went through the notorious Hell Week three times. He went from being an exterminator getting paid less than $1,000 per month to being considered one of the toughest men alive.
- Take cold showers every morning
- Practice intermittent fasting
- Incrementally make your workouts tougher such as exercising in different environments such as running in heat or cold
- Take unessential comforts away from yourself for a few months, such as television or Facebook.
3. Practice Stoic Principles
- Stoic people are mistakenly thought to be apathetic and that nothing bothers them because they don’t care. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
- Stoics feel just as much as the next person, but they can internalise those feelings, deal with them logically, see the situation for what it is, and act appropriately.
- Being stoic means facing your emotions directly and figuring out the best way to handle them that doesn’t involve outbursts or extreme action.
- Before you react to a situation, remember that the only thing you can control is your thoughts, your beliefs, and your actions.
- Try your best not to take things personally because almost every time, a situation has nothing to do with you personally. Someone could be having a terrible day and their outburst at you has nothing to do with you, but whatever they are going through.
- Be stoic in those moments.
- Pause, assess what’s really happening, and consider all sides before you react.
4. Daily Obstacles
- Everyday, try or do something that pushes you outside of your comfort zone.
- Talk to that person you’re interested in.
- Try that hobby or activity that you’ve been putting off for fear of looking silly (because you definitely will mess up as a beginner).
- Be the first to volunteer for something that takes guts like going first on a zip line.
- Find opportunities every day to challenge that initial gut reaction that prevents you from living life.
5. Practice Gratitude
- Practicing gratitude each and every day should be a part of everyone’s routine.
- Most of us have so much in our life to be thankful for, but we tend to forget about those things thanks to little inconveniences.
- A storm knocked out your electricity, but you forget that you live in a beautiful house protecting you from that same storm.
- You get a cold, but you also have access to modern comforts to ease the symptoms and get you better faster.
- You had a fight with your significant other, but you don’t realise that there are literally millions of people without someone to call a partner.
- Chances are, your life is probably pretty amazing even during the worst time. Never forget that.