Sunday, June 12, 2011

Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door

Many Sailors are having to learn a new vocabulary of PTS, ASVAB and ERB.  Others are facing an upcoming retirement.  Some are choosing to leave military service and go back to school or into a challenging job market.  In the process of moving from military to civilian life, it can be helpful to have a book that helps make the transition easier. This week Lt. Theresa Donnelly returns to review such a book, with both practical advice and context -- answering what is at the heart of personal motivation.
Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door - Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You -- by Harvey Mackay
Review by Theresa Donnelly
With the military facing drastic personnel cutbacks, a book examining how to stay prepared for the next career chapter is a must-have for all separating and retiring service members. 
On May 18, Department of Defense Sec. Robert Gates gave a press conference where he announced plans to reexamine military compensation. This initiative gives a clear indication that a comfortable military retirement is NOT a guaranteed outcome after twenty years of service. Around that same time, the Department of Defense announced that all services have consistently exceeded their recruiting numbers and the military is looking at many options to cut down on personnel costs. 
This is why it is imperative to have a robust plan in place for your post-military transition. 
Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door provides excellent tips for everyone from recent college graduates to a seasoned professional looking at their next career move. In fact, author Harvey Mackay is so confident in the book’s outcomes he offers readers a refund of the book should they apply the principals listed and not reach their intended goals. 
The book is a quick and easy-to-digest read.  The short chapters contain many real-life examples of successful strategies for landing that dream job. Much of it resolves around one’s attitude towards the search, such as living as though you’re already in demand.  During that time when you don’t have the job you want, Mackay suggests filling the void with volunteer passions, fitness and education. Bottom line: find projects that give you joy, even if you’re stuck in the wrong job, or diligently working on getting the next one. 
He also spends quite a bit of time examining how to plan down days to include constructive pursuits, such as building a network of like-minded friends who share your goals and to fully research the field you desire. 
Five years ago, I remember “interviewing” public affairs officers here in Hawaii when I was a Navy surface warfare officer so I could get an idea of what exactly a Navy public affairs officer does. I needed to understand their day-to-day duties, drawbacks of the career, and their advice for someone like me just getting started. I found this to be a very effective strategy for obtaining the position I’m in now. 
As for your goals, Mackay advises that they be measurable, identifiable, documented, attainable and specific. These adjectives can help make your search clear and realistic. And, accepting setbacks must be part of the plan. I often think that there isn’t anything worth doing without its own set of issues or what I call “no”-fairies who will always come out and oppose your ideas. The trick is learning how to work around these obstacles and make your objectives better as a result of what you learn through the process.  
Reading and education are key to future success.
Lastly, I want to touch upon the importance of networking. This is examined pretty thoroughly in the book, and it’s worth highlighting here. It is through these friends the majority of jobs will often come. Being a friend, mentor, teacher and resource to others (and doing so unconditionally) can provide you with the greatest, intrinsic satisfaction of all.  Facebook, Linked-In, Meet-Up groups and Twitter are all free resources and can help you stay connected to others. Planning lunches and outings with friends just to socialize and not to work an angle can be enjoyable and productive. It may also lead you down a new and unexpected path. 
What I liked most of all about this book is the focus was centered upon being passionate and sharing your time with others, not a power-hungry ploy to climb a corporate ladder. As someone who is not motivated by making a lot of money, it was refreshing to dive into the advice generated, which was geared toward finding ways to be fulfilled through a job, and not ways to be important, noticed or rich. This book is definitely a great tool to aid in that endeavor.
Theresa provided her first guest review for Navy Reads two years ago this month: Dee Dee Myers’s Why Women Should Rule the World.
What motivates you?  How passionate and committed and focused are you?  For help with these questions, turn to a classic in the Navy Professional Reading Program list: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. -- Bill Doughty

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Faith, Fear and Tom Hanks

by Bill Doughty
Tom Hanks was a military dependent, a Navy family member whose dad served in the Pacific in World War II.   
Tom Hanks has acted in some of the most memorable films of our time — Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Apollo 13, Sleepless in Seattle, The Green Mile and Charlie Wilson’s War.  He produced From the Earth to the Moon, Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers, David McCullough’s John Adams and the controversial, powerful The Pacific.  And, he’s no doubt achieved immortality -- as the voice of Woody in the Toy Story trilogy.  
Tom Hanks transcends genres.  
He is a champion of history and reading, and he frequently encourages people to pick up a book.  Reading — especially reading nonfiction — has nourished his intellectual curiosity and ability to put history in context.
Former Navy Captain NASA astronaut James "Jim" Arthur Lovell, Jr.,
makes a cameo appearance in Tom Hanks'
Apollo 13.
Yale University invited Tom Hanks to speak to its 2011 graduating class recently where he said their imprint on history would be determined by how well they handle fear and inspire faith.  Here’s what Yale Bulletin reported: 
In the ceremony... (May 22), Hanks urged the soon-to-be graduates to begin their future by coming to the aid of the U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars, whose "faith in themselves is shadowed by the fear of not knowing what is expected of them next," he said.
Hanks spoke about the positive and negative aspects of technology for the perpetually plugged-in and connected graduates.  While Facebook and Twitter and other e-media ensure “boredom is vanquished” and certainly help us communicate, there’s a certain shallowness to the celebrity-driven culture that’s being created, he said.
Again, from the Yale Bulletin:
The continual instant access and instant communication, Hanks suggested, has also created a world where fear easily becomes contagious and divisive.
"Fear has become the commodity that sells as certainly as sex," Hanks told the seniors. "Fear is cheap, fear is easy, fear gets attention.... It's fast, it's gossip and it's just as glamorous, juicy and profitable. Fear twists facts into fictions that become indistinguishable from ignorance."
Tom Hanks on Navy’s John Paul Jones and faith and fear:
Hanks... told the seniors that he has a passion for history because of the lessons it teaches. He quoted American naval commander John Paul Jones: "If fear is cultivated, it will become stronger. If faith is cultivated, it will achieve mastery."
"Fear or faith — which will be our master?" Hanks asked the seniors.
"Throughout our nation's constant struggle to create a more perfect union, establish justice and ensure our domestic tranquility, we battle fear from outside our borders and within our own hearts every day of our history," Hanks commented. "Our nation came to be despite the fear of retribution from the king across the sea. America was made strong because people could live free from the fears that made up their daily lives in whatever land they called the ‘Old Country.' Our history books tell of conflicts taken up to free people from fear — those kept in slavery — in our own states, and to liberate whole nations under the rule of tyrants and theologies rooted in fear...
Tom Hanks on a commitment to Veterans and service:
"But we live in a world where too many of us are too ready to believe in things that do not exist," Hanks continued. "Conspiracies abound. Divisions are constructed and the differences between us are not celebrated for making us stronger but are calculated and programmed to set us against each other."
Tom Hanks at Yale: "Move forward, move ever forward."
Hanks told the seniors that they will make choices between fear and faith every day of their lives. He urged them to "take the fears [of U.S veterans] head on" for at least four years — the same amount of time they've been at Yale.
"Whatever your opinion of the wars, you can imprint the very next pages of the history of our troubled world by reinforcing faith in those returning veterans," Hanks told the seniors. "Allowing them rest, aiding in their recovery ... empathizing with the new journey they are starting even though we will never fully understand the journey they just completed, even though we will never understand what they endured. We will all define the true nature of our American identity not by the parades and the welcome-home parties, but how we match their service with service of our own."
The soon-to-be graduates' new "career," Hanks said, is a permanent one: "To stand on the fulcrum between fear and faith — fear at your back, faith in front of you.
"Which way will you move? Move forward, move ever forward," he encouraged them, "and tweet out a picture of the results."
According to Douglas Brinkley, in an insightful profile last year in Time magazine, “Hanks has become American history's highest-profile professor, bringing a nuanced view of the past into the homes and lives of countless millions. 
Brinkley reported that Hanks became intensely interested in military history after reading the two-volume, 1,882-page Library of America Reporting World War II: American Journalism (1938 to 1946).
Hanks read William Manchester and John Hersey.  His Pacific is based on Eugene Sledge's With the Old Breed and Robert Leckie's Helmet for My Pillow.  He was inspired by McCullough, Ambrose, Barbara Tuchman and Doris Kearns Goodwin.  According to Brinkley, “Leon Uris's fact-anchored novels — Mila 18, Armageddon and Exodus — taught Hanks to feel history in a way no high school teacher ever did.”  
According to Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America,There's no such thing as a definitive history. But what was once a passing interest for Hanks has become an obsession. He's a man on a mission to make our back pages come alive, to keep overhauling the history we know and, in the process, get us to understand not just the past but the choices we make today.”