It’s true the best things in life are often the ones that are the hardest to accomplish. In my experience the most rewarding events were the ones that tested my belief in me and what I could accomplish. It’s through the most grueling of challenges we gain the most satisfaction when reflecting back on our memories of our journey and how we transformed. Growth is inevitable; we can do it solely on a physical level or we can decide to grow mentally and emotionally.
The military is notorious for taking in young, undisciplined, unfocused people and transforming them into disciplined, compassionate leaders in our society. The physical and mental methods used test one’s beliefs in themselves and their peers, building a stronger more confident version of themselves. There are many stages to this transformation that builds principled leaders who are willing to commit and sacrifice to an idea bigger than themselves.
I will walk you through three lessons I learned while enduring the mental and physical tests that military training provides the participants. These lessons helped me cope with my journey to become a better leader and I apply them every day when participating in the blockchain ecosystem.
Embrace the Suck
This is probably the most important lesson you can learn to cope with, getting out of your comfort zone and leaving the support system that you had prior to embarking on your journey to growth and becoming a stronger member of society. To embrace the suck is to fully understand that your circumstances are temporary, and you are going through a test that will only last as long as you allow it. In essence by embracing the suck you take control of your emotions and trust in your own abilities.
As a cadet in advanced camp training this technique was used on road marches that would seem to last forever. I found that as soon as I accepted where I was and the fact that I would be there for a short period of time no matter how sleep deprived I was there would be an end and better days ahead. When you give in and forget the million things that would be easier to do you start to have fun and live in the present. So how does this lesson apply to participating in and investing in blockchain technology? Well the technology is in its infancy and there is constantly news coming out both good and bad.
As a believer in the future this technology promises, I’m also an avid consumer of the latest news cycle concerning the technology. This can cause a less focused mind to wander, getting caught up in the Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) cycles that surround the industry, or the euphoric Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) cycles. News of regulation and government crackdown often threatens the ecosystem since most enthusiasts are hooked on the news cycle like I am. The reaction is knee jerk and price fluctuations that follow are bi-directional. Embracing the suck has been a leading technique I use to stay focused on the long-term potential of the technology and stay out of the FUD and FOMO cycles that are so prevalent.
Be Flexible and Adapt
The next lesson military training teaches you that you can apply to the bipolar world of digital ledger technology/blockchain (DLT/BC) is the realization that only you decide how to interpret the data and how it applies to your situation. Believe in yourself and your abilities! The world is complex and constantly evolving much like military training exercises. You start with a plan, then you receive new data and you must act on that new data. Your actions are determined by your interpretation of that data and how it applies to your situation on the ground.
I can recall a training exercise in Germany where as a tank platoon leader I had to pivot from the commander’s original plan to save my platoon from the opposing force (OPFOR). The OPFOR had moved away from their dug-in positions, highlighted by our intel report, and gone on the offensive. Recognizing this fact, I had to change my platoon’s tactics in order to reach our objective and fulfill the commander’s intent. That’s the good thing about plans in the military; it’s understood that they never go exactly as planned.
So applying this lesson to DLT/BC investing and development is very easy. Markets don’t always greet news the way one would expect and technology does not always roll out seamlessly. In an emerging market, one must expect things to go awry on occasion, but to plot out the best course of action you must collect data and understand the big picture or as in the military the commander’s intent. As more people move into the DLT/BC space new ideas and information are introduced and our data points further expand, it is important to keep an eye on the strategic picture and maintain a laser focused on project or investment goals.
Stay Hungry and Humble
In armor Officer Basic Course (OBC) my class was told by seasoned non-commissioned officers (NCO) that the greatest asset we would take to our units on day one was enthusiasm and desire to learn. This was a lesson in humility, where the majority of the class had no prior service and would be leading many troops who were twice our age. Everyone starts out from the beginning and as we progress in our understanding we must constantly seek out new information and stay hungry for knowledge. Enthusiasm keeps us motivated and in a positive frame of mind, which builds our confidence in our abilities.
It’s easy to get discouraged when learning something new and frustrating to start over that is why most people shrug off innovation. It’s too hard and they have lost that enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge, which is paramount to learning new information. Building on the previous lessons DLT/BC is evolving rapidly, just when you think you understand how one protocol operates you read news of a new consensus mechanism and how that will work. Don’t be discouraged we are all learning this together! There are innovators who are working on improving the technology by experimenting and pivoting a way from failures, all while staying enthusiastic about the future and learning every minute of the journey! These are exciting times and the lessons are bountiful.
Military training offers some of the best lessons in leadership and their applications are boundless. If you can learn to embrace the suck and understand it is temporary while having faith in your abilities you can pass any test and get through any hardship. Trusting in your abilities is the foundation to accomplishing the goals you set out for yourself; information is constantly changing, calling for leaders who can see the strategic intent and pivot in directions that accomplish goals. Finally, enthusiasm and a hunger for learning are contagious and positively influences any organization or movement. Practitioners in DLT/BC show on a daily basis that they understand these lessons by the resilience the ecosystem demonstrates through every FUD/FOMO cycle and development that continues today as the space evolves.