Sunday, April 5, 2009
About me and this blog
My military career provided me with profound fulfillment, satisfaction, and progressive growth. Sooner or later though as one advances through the military ranks, he is "developed" (i.e. forced promotion) into more senior positions - positions that may not be well aligned with one's passions. Positions that are more and more detached from the military' greatest assets: its actual troops.
The best way to explain this is through a simple analogy: a Captain is like a quarterback of a NFL football team. He is in the prime of his physical career and competing in the most prominent league of his profession. First he leads his team through intense training, and then he leads them in the field of battle to spectacular achievement and success. But like the NFL quarterback, a military officer can only lead on the field for so long. Those who decide to stay in the military enter "staff" and can progress to senior positions equivalent to offensive coordinator, head coach, and maybe even General Manager. These are critical positions with great responsibility, but few NFL quarterbacks joined the NFL to play from the sideline. And so, with my options quickly narrowing, I sought to find an alternative. Where else can I possibly replicate the kind of fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from directly leading some of the military's most elite soldiers during challenging and intense missions throughout the world? Where else can I serve as an agent of change and have the greatest possible impact? These were questions I struggled with for years as I knew the day of reckoning would eventually come - and this is something I and many others still struggle with.
Life has a very strange and unpredictable way of unfolding. Most of us will probably meet our spouse by complete coincidence. How else would our lives have looked if we never crossed paths? Perhaps one got his first big job because of a random rendezvous with old alumni. How else would his career have looked if he stayed at home that day? Like evolution, our lives often change with leaps and bounds.
In the spring of 2008 I was in Iraq, reading many books on the side as deployed soldiers commonly tend to do. One of the books particularly peeked my interest. I thought it was extremely well written and addressed topics I had never been exposed to. It excited me academically and sparked dreams I had never imagined. As I finished the book and put it back on my plywood and sandbag shelf, I noticed the small Harvard Business School Press logo on the binding and thought "hmm... if that's the kind of stuff they teach at Harvard Business School, that sounds like a pretty interesting place." And with that the seed was planted. Over the next 6 months this seed would grow into a burning desire fueled by the excitment and challenge HBS offers, and the career that it might enable. A career I hope will come close to the level of satisfaction and fulfillment that Marines and Soldiers experience leading others through adversity and making a difference in the world.