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Five Military Lessons To Learn For Everyday Life




The military has a lot of toning and conditioning, and it’s called – Discipline. Hours of cleaning. All that synchronised marching – same old formations, days on end.

The instructors have you put things in a very specific order. These traditions may seems either redundant or anal retentive – but, are meant to build discipline.

Discipline separates men from boys, women from girls, and winners from losers. It translates into the civilian world.

To excel in school, kids need discipline. Why report school at 7am, instead of 9am? Why do kids need to clean their classrooms, while the school can afford cleaners? The stuff at school that’s not fun, it’s meant to instil discipline.

As an adult, you cannot hold a job if you lack discipline – missing meetings and deadlines will have you fired. Be on time, all the time.

Gifted athletes have ruined promising careers, lost endorsements – for lack of it.

The military teaches that it’s not necessarily hard work and good performance that gets the high marks, but by, simply, how sharp the uniform is…

Stay Calm

The military teaches stoic calmness. Whatever it is, or how messed up the situation, stay calm. Do not make a big deal out of minor mishaps.

Basic training is hell. Being yelled at is standard fanfare. The instructors always expect and drive for the impossible, from you: Get up – shower – iron the rig – shine boots – shove down hot breakfast – clean up! All in 10 minutes, or less!

In the beginning, it’s un-nerving. But, then, soon you grow a thicker skin. You realise they don’t really expect you to finish all these tasks in 10 minutes. They’ll yell – just to see if you can stay cool. It’s a game.

That is a replay of what happens in a fire fight. Learn to be calm, even when hell rains down on you.


When something goes wrong, what’s the immediate action? It’s really bad, if you unthinkingly dive in.

The military teaches one thing. It teaches the answer to the question: “What’s the first thing to do in a crisis?”. The answer is “Nothing!”

Sounds off, right?

What this means, is that incase of a mishap – it’s always better to wait for a half-sec, a few min, half a day, et al. It depends on the crisis.

This doesn’t advocate procrastination, or pointless inaction. In situations of absolute certainty of what needs doing, you do it.

You spot suspicious text message in your spouse’s phone – wait a day, or two. You meet a good business deal, don’t rush to fill bank loan forms. Breath.

In harsh circumstances, take a step back – check that what you’re about to do won’t further mess up the situation.

Blame Game

Stuff will go wrong – Murphy’s Law is real. The worst thing is to look for someone or something to place the blame.

It needlessly wastes time. It destroys morale. It makes otherwise rational people tip-toe around making decisions. In the military – it’s often life or death situations. Always seek to play the blame-game later, when the eye of the storm has passed.

It hits harder, in the civilian world.

As you get home after work, your daughter calls to say she’s been arrested for being in possession of illegal drugs, say, Cannabis.

First instinct, is to scream down the phone – telling her she’s always had bad company, what disrespute she’s brought the family name. Good parenting, huh….

But, as your anger ebbs after the ranting, and get to the station, word gets to you how Boda Boda operators are setting up school kids. Once a kid hails a bike, the rider asks them to hold a parcel as they ride – turns out its packed with drugs.

It’s a set up. A rogue traffic cop stops them, makes an arrest. The parents are then extorted for money, to avoid prosecution.


The military is tough on this lesson. Lead by example. As a commanding officer, if you need your soldiers to do things, act a certain way – show them. Not order it. Shiny boots? be in shiny boots. Be on time for parade? Then you need to be on time.

In the corporate set up, the boss sets the vibe in the office. Are you well-groomed, concise and a time keeper? Your staff will feed off your vibe.

At home, the kids will learn off your habits. If you hardly ever brush your teeth, it pays little to demand your kids brush their teeth. It’s basically, a monkey-see, monkey-do situation.

Do as I do will often work. Do as I say? Not so much.

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