What Every Communicator Should Learn from our Armed Forces


May 14, 2013 by daawriter

DadBlogOn Christmas Day in 1958, my father inched his way to breakfast on his elbows and toes with about 125 other Marines. Popularly known today as a plank position, it’s hard enough to hold for 30 seconds. I can’t imagine being forced to move from barracks to commissary through who knows what just to eat.

That memorable moment was the beginning of my dad’s 21-year career of proudly serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Our military trains extensively to be the best. As the daughter of a retired military member, I’ve picked up a few lessons along the way. In honor of Armed Forces Day (May 18), I’d like to share some with you. Interestingly, they all circle back to three things: discipline, focus and excellence.

As a communicator, I have no illusions that my job in any way compares with the duties of our military men and women. Having said that…

helicopterStay focused. The focus required of fixing a helicopter before it heads into a war zone trumps the focus it takes to draft a document without any AP Style errors. The accuracy of your work as a communicator might not result in death, but I will argue its importance. When you pitch a press release, answer a media inquiry or design a website, the credibility of your employer is at stake, and therefore, other people’s jobs. If you work in internal communications, the words you craft can create a better work environment. Always keep the bigger picture in view.

No matter what your assignment, take pride in it. In this challenging economy, communication jobs are hard to come by. College graduates from prestigious journalism schools or veteran communicators who’ve faced a layoff might find themselves performing administrative work to get their foot in the door. Always strive for excellence. When you finish a day’s work, make sure it’s something you can be proud of.

Don’t do it for the money. Enlisted members of the military do not make much money. My dad joined because he felt it was his duty. Reputable, lucrative positions in communications exist. But, be careful not to make your career decisions solely on money. Follow your heart and your conscience.

Be respectful. The military chain of command demands respect. Failure to show respect results in swift disciplinary action. As civilians, we enjoy more latitude in sharing our opinions and speaking our mind. But, that is no excuse to be disrespectful to people above OR below you in rank.

Be disciplined. Long lists of overwhelming tasks can be tackled with discipline. Establish structure, develop effective processes and work hard.

My deepest gratitude goes out to all of our Armed Forces, serving now and in the past. Thank you for your service, sacrifice and infinite number of lessons that could never be captured in a simple blog post.

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One thought on “What Every Communicator Should Learn from our Armed Forces

  1. What a lovely post. As the sibling of an active duty Air Force officer, I, too, am very appreciative of all that these individuals do. And your list is spot on! :-)

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