Below is the great feedback I received from last week’s essay, “What Does it Mean To be a Quiet Professional?” If you haven’t read the essay – click Here for the original post.
Having just had 4 days off sick, and coming back to the Duty Supervisor shift for my entire unit with Stations spread across the fringes of the central business district of ——— in Australia, I’m not too proud to say I almost rang in sick again.
After 8 years as a Soldier and 27 years in my current role, my ‘Quiet Professionalism’ has some very quiet days, so I read your article about being a ‘Quiet Professional’ with some interest.
My Unit is spread out and we don’t see some Officers for 12 months or more face to face, so everyone’s level of attentiveness ebbs and flows depending on the good or bad parameters each shift presents you with, even before leaving the Station.
I have to say however, that your 11 points slapped me across the face. Unless an Officer is a complete Oxygen Thief, I think all of us can do with some reminders every now and then, just why we chose to do what we do.
I would really like to put your ‘Quiet Professional’ article in our Units newsletter, with your permission, but in order to make it more worthwhile would it be possible to get a brief biography of you to include with it. Assuming that you agree.
If the Editor sees fit to include it I will of course send you a copy.
Thanks in advance – A.
You nailed it. We don’t live for ourselves alone. We live and breathe to be part of the whole. Thinking only about oneself leaves no room for growth, joy in others’ achievements, enjoying the ‘suck’ with others (ie hard workouts, hikes, packing lots of weight on steep terrain), and finding other amazing people that soon become friends. And it is sad to say, but working in the field that I do, people do not have the drive to get out and DO IT! Not long ago if that was the attitude most people would’ve starved. I personally come from a background of steel work and wildland fire which took a lot of drive within the team and individually. However, as a cohesive group the drive was definitely easier as part of a whole. My personal motto is, “There is no such thing as failure; ONLY learning.”
I just wanted to thank you for this article. I’m a senior at the University of —————, and I’m about to and enlist in the Navy to get a SEAL contract, so this article was very well timed. I have thought about a few of these things to some extent before, but it is good to see them all in one place so I can kind of check my self. Great reminder of WHY things are important, not just what things are important, and recognizing that that distinction, in itself, is important.
Thanks greatly for sharing your thoughts,
I very much enjoyed your discussion of the Quiet Professional, and I agree with it on all points.
The only thing that I would add would be Leadership: a devotion to the development of leadership skills in yourself and in others, the ability to fit into a team and maximize your contribution to the objectives of the team, and the personal commitment to lead by example and to otherwise help other team members in their own personal development by teaching and motivating.
Thank you Rob,
I’m not sure I’ve ever framed myself as a “quiet professional”, as that phrase seems to be connected to the military special operations community. But your question got me thinking. In a career spanning beyond 20 years, I’ve worked with some amazing people and a few duds. Over time, as my maturity level and my professional responsibilities grew, my thoughts about the job began to distill down. My intent is to emulate the behaviors of the great ones and avoid the pitfalls of the losers. Below you will find my thoughts on how to do so, I hope someone may find them useful.
The longer I do the job, the simpler it becomes. The list of things I care about has become rather small but my commitment to that list has grown. In the end, I really only care about the things that are directly related to how we take care of the people who count on us and how we take care of each other. The other things, like uniforms, reports, etc. matter in the sense that they must be done to maintain the organization, but I’m not going to get worked up about them or let them become my focus.
So how do we take care of the citizens who need us and the brothers and sisters who do it in an environment that is unpredictable? We identify that which we can control and we control the hell out of it! My list of controllable factors is as follows:
-Communicate early, communicate often. Never assume that people know what you are seeing, thinking, feeling, etc. Start every shift with communication regarding the plans for the day. Ask if anyone has issues or needs that might impact operations or simply make them happier or more motivated. Communicate your expectations and or needs repeatedly. Remind everyone of standing orders and give clear direction/feedback on every operational situation. Treat those you serve with the same consideration. Don’t assume that they are ignorant, yet don’t assume they understand what you are doing either. Be direct and honest in all communication. Listen carefully. Encourage the same from everyone. Repeat constantly.
-Know your equipment, wear it, carry it and use it. No exceptions! Yes, the job is unpredictable but the equipment you have at your disposal should never be. There is no excuse for not knowing or properly using the equipment that has been provided for you. This is often the first victim of complacency, so it must be a constant focus in training and individual accountability.
-Be fit. Little explanation needed here. I’m preaching to the converted.
-Stay together. Never, ever separate yourself from your people. This is the ultimate team sport and freelancing is a recipe for tragedy. You are next to worthless alone and you may well take down others who have to come looking for you. Practice this under routine conditions and it will be second nature under extreme ones.
-Keep things in the house. We are adults with strong personalities and opinions, living under sometimes stressful conditions. Conflict happens. Keeping drama within the family is not only a matter of trust but solutions at the small unit level are almost always more livable than the ones handed down from above.
-Lead by example. This may be the most important of all. Leadership transcends rank and actions drown out words. My behavior is the only one I can actually control so I need to step up daily and do so.
I only know my little corner of the tactical community, but I suspect these simple points would apply universally. Thanks for listening.
I read your article regarding what it means to be a Quiet Professional, and am writing because I agree with you.
I see way too many “operators” (real or not) today that do not seem to have the values you wrote. Longevity in the profession definitely depends on having what you wrote.
Most people are attracted to ASOC for the glamour of being the best trained and going on the important missions. But often what is forgotten is that 1% of your time is spent in those moments. Most of your time is spent in the suck. That’s just the way it is. You spend most of your time training for the next fight, you go to fight, then you keep on training for the next one. Everybody wants to be an operator on a Friday, but when the time to grind comes, it really separates who wants to do the job and who doesn’t.
True warriors do not wear muscle-shirts espousing their group to the gym and around town, and seek to let everybody know who they are. If you are really what you claim to be, you don’t need to show off. Often the loudest guy in the room is also the weakest. The most respectable warrior are those that suffer in silence, working on themselves while the wannabes flex their biceps and puff their chests. The most respectable ones put their time in and out at the office and are often unseen and unacknowledged. They dedicate themselves to their mission; they are called obsessed by less motivated people to describe their dedication.
It took me a while too to realize I had to stop chasing brass to put on my ASUs, and focus on making myself more valuable to my team. There will always be someone your age/grade with more brass, so I learned to stop evaluating myself with that metric. Instead of focusing how I can stand out, I worked on how to make myself valuable to the team. This included increasing my fitness, intelligence, and all around usefulness. In the end, this is really how you stand out, instead of chasing brass.
And, I really side with you mentioning the need for humor and humility. You have to be able to laugh at and with your teammates, but more important you also have to be able to laugh at yourself. When I was a younger enlistee, I invested my ego in perfect performance as a Soldier. You can guess how that worked out. Constant stress, and constant disappointment in myself for my imperfections. I learned to let go.
The true warrior’s path is often a lonely one, and most of the friends whom I started this journey with, civilian and military, have left me. But the core group I have will always be there for me, and I for them.
Anyway, that’s what I think about your article. Thanks for posting it.
Mr. Shaul, I have been a fan of the physical plans of Military Athlete for quite some time. Not only is the physical challenge always a new, invigorating experience, but the mental aspect you and your team always display is by far the most beneficial, to me anyways. I serve in a military organization that primes itself on being the quiet professional and this article you have posted has by far been the most captivating and best wording of the term “quiet professional” I have read and can sum up. I just wanted to thank you for this so I can show my future Ranger leaders to come, so that they can keep the tradition of the quiet professional alive and well, and in the most clear way possible. Thanks for everything you and your team do and I look forward to future articles and training plans to come!
V/R, – J.
Great piece of writing that captures so many of the thoughts that my peers and I have shared over “spirited discussion”. You are really only as good as your next gunfight. Competition placings, trophies, badges all document past performance for personal reflection. I really like the “it depends” model, I have used it myself along with “it’s a way” to get it done. As a current trainer getting to rotate back to the field, you are spot on in referencing the “It’s not about me”. The training that we provide to our students, regardless of discipline, needs to be the best it can be so when their life depends on it, they will WIN.
Keep up the great work and cognitive thoughts, they are pure gold.