Thursday, September 25, 2014


Musings of a Retired Navy Veteran

HOLISTIC ORIENTATION – The Most Important OLQ (Officer Like Quality)

Let me repeat this cliché ad nauseam to drive this truism right into your head:

The Navy is not a job.

The Navy is a way of life.

I feel that the same holds true for all aspects of Military Life in the Defence Services, in all the 3 Armed Forces (Army Navy and Air Force).

The Military is not a Job – The Military is a Way of Life.

In most civilian jobs, the connection between the employer and the employee  involves mainly those activities connected with the completion of a specific job.

This is true of the industry, especially the IT industry, where organizations practice an HR Policy of “partial inclusion”.

The Military has a Holistic Orientation and practice an HR Attitude of “Total Inclusion”.

There are three aspects in every person’s life:

1. Work Life

2. Social Life

3. Personal Life

In the Military, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, all three aspects of a person’s life (“Work Life”, “Social Life” and “Personal Life”) are integrated into a single whole.  

Most civilian organisations and industries officially follow the precept:

Personal feelings have no place at work”.

In the Civilian World:

Relationships between organization and employees are limited to work life alone.

Yes, in some cases, there may be a bit of “socializing” but an employee’s personal life is considered his or her private matter and it is not considered legitimate and appropriate for the organisation to formally meddle into personal affairs or interfere with the personal life of an employee.

In the Military, relationships are not restricted to work life alone. 

In the Defence Services, relationships transcend the work space and encompass your social and personal life as well.

In the Military: “Personal feelings do have a place at work”.

As I had said earlier, the Military has a Holistic Attitude of “Total Inclusion”

This means that you are on duty 24/7 in the Military.

Yes, you are on the job at all times, 24/7, round the year on every day of your service life, whether you are on-duty or off-duty. 

Once you are a Military Officer, you have no other identity  you are an Army Officer, a Naval Officer or an Air Force Officer.

Till you are in service you have no other identity.

In many cases this may hold true after retirement as well  since it is only in the Military that you are allowed to prefix your rank before your name even after retirement.

As I said earlier, in the Military, all the three aspects of your life (“Work Life”, “Social Life” and “Personal Life”) are integrated into a single whole. 

In contrast to a job in the civilian world where “personal feelings have no place at work”, in the Military “Personal feelings have a vital and significant place at work”.

This holistic relationship fosters a sense of intimacy between individuals, nurtures team-spirit and develops lifelong bonds of trust and understanding. 

This unique intimate relationship is imperative for war-fighting.

The concept of “Total Inclusion” cultivates a unique intimate relationship which covers the entire gamut of work related and non-work related issues.

Not only you, but even your wife, your children and your family will be subject to the “total inclusion” culture prevalent in the defence services.

For example, your wife’s status will depend on your Rank and Position.

This is because, a Military Wife “carries” her husband’s rank and her very identity is determined by her husband’s position in the Hierarchy.

Yes, it is the husband’s rank that determines the status of the wife in the closed military society.

In the military, the dictum “RANK HAS ITS PRIVILEGES” (RHIP) extends to your family life as well.

Will this extension of “pecking order” to your family life be acceptable to you?

Will you like some senior officer’s wife “lording” over your wife despite the fact that your wife is more accomplished?

And, God Forbid, if you miss your promotion, are you and your family prepared to suffer the “Rank Has Its Privileges” (RHIP) ignominy and humiliation in all three aspects of your life (work, social and personal life)?

(Girls who are thinking of marrying military officers also need to consider whether they will be okay with all these ramifications of Holistic Orientation” which may affect their personal life)

On the positive side, “total inclusion” will ensure that you and your family will be well looked after by the military fraternity, by the service establishment, and by women’s welfare organizations like AWWA, NWWA and AFWWA.

Hence, if you wish to join the defence services you must be prepared for this “holistic” way of life which entails the intermixing of your work life, your social life and your personal/family life.


In my opinion, you are not suited for a Career in the Armed Forces in the following two cases:

1. If you are a “private person” who believes that “office” and “home” must be kept separate, 

2. If you feel that your boss, your workplace colleagues and the organisation must keep out of your personal life.

If you feel strongly about any of the above, then you must think seriously and introspect before you decide to join the armed forces.


Like I said earlier:

In the Military you cannot separate your Personal Life from your Work Life. 

In fact, in the Military:

Personal Feelings have a vital and significant impact at work

This is because Military Life requires you to have a mind-set of “Holistic Orientation.

You will be subjected to Holistic Orientation” the moment you join the Armed Forces as a Cadet at any of the Military Training Academies - National Defence Academy (NDA), Indian Military Academy (IMA), Naval Academy, Air Force Academy or the Officers Training Academy (OTA), as the case may be, depending on where you join.

So, before you decide on a career in the Armed Forces, in the Army, Navy or Air Force, you must introspect to see whether you have the requisite Holistic Orientation”.

If you are a “private person” who values your privacy and individual identity, and you do not have a compatible “attitude” towards Holistic Orientation, then I feel that a Military Career, in the Army Navy or Air Force, is definitely not your cup of tea.


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

The unique attributes of a military career entail a distinctive “way of life” that makes a career in the armed forces totally different as compared to a career in the civilian world.

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

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

Please do not let that happen to you.

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 because your career is probably the most important part of your life.

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

But if your attitude in not in sync with the military way of life then you may get frustrated and your life may become miserable.

That is why, before you join the defence services, make sure that your nature is amenable to HOLISTIC ORIENTATION and you have the requisite attributes and attitude suitable for a career in the armed forces.

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1. These are my personal views based on my own experience. These career guidance 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. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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