Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A MILITARY CAREER IS NOT A MERE JOB - IT IS A WAY OF LIFE

A MILITARY CAREER IS NOT A MERE JOB - IT IS A WAY OF LIFE

CAREER GUIDANCE TIPS
DO YOU WANT TO JOIN THE NAVY or ARMY or AIR FORCE
Part 1
ATTITUDE MATTERS MORE THAN APTITUDE 
Musings
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Disclaimer:
1. These tips are based on my own experience and represent my own personal views which may not be universal in nature and may not apply to you. You must make your own career decisions with due diligence.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
3. No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013 all rights reserved

ATTITUDE MATTERS MORE THAN APTITUDE 

A career in the defence services or armed forces like the Army Navy and Air Force is different from most other civilian careers. 

There is a saying:

The Navy is not a job. The Navy is a way of life

(I feel the same holds true for the Army and Air Force as well).

It is this distinctive “way of life” that makes a career in the armed forces different from a career in the civilian organisations, industry or the business world.

Many young persons join the defence services without fully understanding the unique aspects of a military career and then feel out of place, mismatched, frustrated and regretful.

Do join the army, navy and air force - but do so with due diligence, with your eyes open and with full awareness. 

It may prove foolhardy to join on a sudden impulse or in a wave of jingoism. You must be realistic about it.

In this series of blog posts on career guidance tips, I will try to bring out some salient aspects of military life, especially in the navy, based on my personal experience.

If you have the right attitude a military career is very satisfying and fulfilling.

PROLOGUE

Long back, more than 15 years ago, a young boy, accompanied by his parents came to see me at my home in Pune where I was spending my annual leave.

The boy, 15, studying in 11th Class, wanted to join the Navy.

His parents, who lived nearby, were from a business background.

I talked to the boy, and his parents, for some time.

Then, from what I had learnt the hard way from my own experience, I advised the boy not to join the navy.

His parents were angry: “Why are you saying so? Our son is so good – look at his personality, his physical fitness, his intelligence, his smartness. Don’t you feel our son has the aptitude to be selected for the navy?”

“Of course he has the aptitude,” I commented, “but does he have the right attitude?”

The boy and his parents looked at me confused and it looked like they were getting upset.

Before the parents could react, I said, “Well, I feel that your son does not have the appropriate attitude for the navy.”

I saw that the furious parents, who thought that I was demeaning their son, were in no mood to listen to any further explanations, so I kept quiet. Their ego was hurt and I could see that now the boy was even more determined than ever to join the navy and prove me wrong as if it were a prestige issue.

The boy cleared the UPSC Exam, sailed through the SSB (of course, they assess “aptitude” but I wonder if they evaluate “attitude”) and in due course the smart young boy joined the academy as a cadet for basic training.

Ten years later, the same boy, looking smart in his spotless white uniform of a Naval Lieutenant, was sitting in my office in Mumbai.

He had come to ask me a favour.

He desperately wanted to get out of the navy and was wondering if I could help him out.

“But why do you want to quit the navy?” I asked with surprise, “you are just beginning your career in the navy and you have such a bright future ahead.”

“I just don’t like it over here – I just can’t tolerate my life being controlled all the time – the bloody rules, regulations, and all the bullshit – I can’t stand it anymore.”

“So you don’t like the regimentation, the naval way of life?” I asked.

“Yes. I remember what you said ten years ago when we had come over to your place in Pune. You said that I didn’t have the right attitude for the navy. You were right. I should have listened to you.”

Of course, then he went on to list many reasons why he wanted to quit – family pressures (his father was not keeping well and wanted him to look after their family business), a matrimonial alliance (the girl did not want to marry a defence officer) and so many other reasons. But the crux was the attitudinal mismatch problem.

I frankly told him that it would be very difficult for him to leave the navy since he was a permanent commission cadet entry officer.

I advised him that now that he had joined the navy, it was best for him to continue serving in the navy as he had a bright career ahead.

But I saw that the young Lieutenant sitting in front of me was in no mood to listen to my platitudinous advice.

That boy had not listened to my advice when I told him not to join the navy.

Now, again, the boy did not listen to me when I told him to continue serving in the navy.

The young Lieutenant was adamant on quitting the navy. He kept putting up his resignation again and again giving different pretexts and made his own life miserable and everyone else’s too.

Later, I learnt that his perseverance had paid off and he had finally managed to get out of the navy after a struggle of nearly three years, relentlessly pushing his papers, pulling strings, using connections, begging and pleading his case – three years of his productive life wasted, to him and to the navy – and finally he left the navy with a feeling of bitterness.

During my naval career I have seen so many officers who realised that they were misfits in the navy and wasted many frustrated years of their lives in misery trying to get out of the navy.

That is why, before you join the navy, make sure you have the right attitude suitable for a career in the navy.

Attitude matters more than aptitude.

Your attitude is your way of thinking (based on your values and beliefs) which influences your behaviour and determines the manner in which you approach life. 

Attitude determines your mindset.

On the other hand, your aptitude is your ability to do something.

Aptitude comprises talent, skills, qualifications, proficiency, competence, capability and capacity to do your job well.

Your attitude or mindset is value-based and hence is universal in nature.

In contrast, aptitude is job specific.

For example, you may have a rigid attitude towards honesty or you may have a flexible attitude towards honesty (situational ethics).

Your ethical attitude will depend on your moral and ethical values.

And you will exercise this attitude in all jobs you do and in all aspects of your life.

You may have a dogmatic attitude towards religion or, in contrast, you may have a tolerant attitude towards diverse religious views and practices.

You may have a democratic mind-set or an authoritarian leadership attitude.

Whatever your attitude, you will exercise it wherever you are and in whichever job you do, because you cannot compromise your attitude since attitude is your nature.

On the other hand, by learning and training, you can develop the appropriate aptitude for a specific job or career.

Induction Training as a Cadet will enable you to develop the appropriate aptitude for the navy.

In contrast, no amount of training can change your inherent attitude and if there is mismatch then you will be a misfit in the navy, which is not good for you and neither is it good for the service.

You may ask me: “What is the appropriate attitude for a career as an officer in the navy?”

I am going to try and answer that question in detail.

We will discuss the salient attributes (or distinctive characteristics) of a career in the navy.

This will give you a clue as to whether you have the right attitude in congruence with these unique attributes which will enable you to have a harmonious naval career.


SALIENT ATTRIBUTES OF A NAVY CAREER

As I had said earlier: “The Navy is not a job. The Navy is a way of life”

(I feel the same holds true for the Army and Air Force as well).

It is this distinctive “way of life” that makes a career in the armed forces different from a career in the civilian organisations, industry or the business world.

In a nutshell, as far as I can recall, there are 12 unique characteristics that govern your career in the navy:


1. HOLISTIC ORIENTATION

2. LIFETIME EMPLOYMENT

3. REGIMENTATION 

4. TOUGH DANGEROUS CHALLENGING WORK

5. MODERATE COMPENSATION PACKAGE

6. MODEST CAREER PROSPECTS

7. NON-SPECIALISED CAREER PATH 

8. CONFORMIST ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE

9. RIGID RANK BASED HIERARCHICAL STRUCTURE 

10. INFLEXIBLE HR POLICIES

11. UNSTABLE FAMILY LIFE

12. EARLY RETIREMENT AGE 

If you planning to join the navy you must ask yourself whether you have the right attitude to match all these attributes?

In Part 2 of this series, in my next blog post, we will discuss the first attribute:HOLISTIC ORIENTATION

Till then, do mull over what I have written above, and ask yourself - Do I have the right ATTITUDE for the Navy (or Army or Air Force)?

And, if you feel you have the right attitude, go ahead and join.

Continued in Part 2 - HOLISTIC ORIENTATION

http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/07/career-guidance-tips-do-you-want-to_9.html

Do comment if you want to ask me anything or have any questions or doubts.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
NB:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013 all rights reserved

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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