Are you creative?

And not necessarily in the traditional artistic sense – paintings, novels, songs etc. Being content surrounded by non-toxic crayons and sticky back plastic. 

All humans have a degree of creativity. It’s how we’ve developed, evolved and innovated our way through existence. 

Military folks in particular, thrive on problem finding and solving. And because we serve, we have the ability to empathise with others. 

Now, that’s not to say most military careers don’t also batter that creativity out of you. It’s the nature of the organisation to strive for uniformity and status quo maintenance. It provides a clear set of rules to follow. 

It’s my belief that during a military career, that creativity goes into a dormant state. 

For me, it was always words. Looking back now I enjoyed writing at school, won an award for public speaking (was doing TED before it existed 😆) and whilst my imagination wasn’t in the Neil Gaiman league, I’ve always been able to cobble a relatively coherent sentence together. 

During a military leadership course, when it came to defence writing, most of the class slumped in their chair, rolled their eyes and a little bit of sick entered their mouth. 

For me, I took one look at JSP 101 and it was as though a celestial beam of light shone down on the desk and a choir of angels filled the room. 

Ok, it wasn’t quite that ethereal, but I loved the structure. 

This leads to my ability to create policy documents and process guides. That was my “thing” during my career. And not merely because there were words on a page for the sake of it. 

No. In my mind, if someone didn’t know how to do something – I wanted them to have a resource that helped them do their job more effectively. They would feel they had done good, the patient was happy too, and everyone had a better day. 

When you leave the military, things have the opportunity to take a different turn. 

I let my imagination have all the fun for once. Learned the mechanics of storytelling and the tools needed for a creative process.

Until finally it was time to write about life. That’s my passion. 

What’s yours?

Where did you feel constrained before? 

And now, if you could be creative in any sense, what might that look like each day for you? 

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I got nothing.

And that means I could have just skipped a week of blogging.

Every day I have been battling the Resistance. And the Resistance won.

I told myself: I am taking a break anyway. I am on annual leave.

Then today I saw the gap where a blog should be.

Because of that, it made me feel bad.

Because of that, I felt compelled to offer something.

Even if that was being honest about having a sub-optimal week.

We all have them from time to time. And that’s ok.

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Do You Want Mastery?

When we make a decision – most of that process is irrational.

It comes from the gut or deep subconscious parts of our brain that struggle to find the words.

We decide – then come up with a logical and rational justification for that decision. A story we tell ourselves to satisfy the chimp inside our brains – and the chimps we assume are inside everyone else’s brains too.

It’s a very valid and worthy and logical story that everyone can understand and buy into.

What that story really is, is a place for you to hide and play it safe.

Hide from your work – whatever intrinsic or extrinsic form that may take for you.


Mastery of your capabilities and of your destiny.

Autonomy to get your teeth into a really juicy project.

Ownership of your time and efforts.

To leave a lasting legacy.

Demonstration of your worth to its fullest. Not only to others, but to yourself too.

And by hiding behind rational stories, it allows you to operate guilt and regret-free. And never having to face public failure. Because hey, who’s going to criticise someone for getting a “proper job”, spending more time with family, and accepting the status quo.

I am not here to criticise the decision itself.

More of a desire to see more women in particular striving for more.

From a post in a group: “What is the main support needed for female veterans and why?

This question pecks away at me daily and I struggle to find the words to pinpoint a root cause. And many of the comments, including my own, tend to lean towards confidence and worth.

Often feeling like an outsider, I didn’t leave for work/life balance because of family.

It was more a question of life!

I felt stagnant and constrained. Challenged for all the wrong reasons.

It’s why I went freelance… to feel the fear! But never really gripped it with both hands through lack of confidence.

However, through the power of networking – a skill practice daily, I’ve now landed contracts with organisations that offer me the autonomy of freelancing, whilst still being part of a team.

And I still don’t feel done. There’s a creative itch lingering.

It’s a challenging topic for military service leavers and our civilian allies. Many people do leave careers for family reasons. People steer towards jobs that suit other people’s expectations. And with everything so out and loud on social media now, many people are crippled by impostor syndrome and anxiety.

And with my curious head on, in certain situations, I would supportively challenge the logical reasoning because, for the right desired outcome – we always find a way to make things work.

And whilst the Service does place immense strain on families and personal wellbeing – it may be the final straw that got you to make those seven clicks, but I believe there’ll be a deeper cause that got you thinking about it in the first place.

Unconvinced that simply leaving the military will prove to be the scratch required, the next step is to look for a purpose that was unable to find its place while you were serving.

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The Next Renaissance

Once upon a time…

Each village had the butcher, the baker and a candlestick maker. 

Then supermarkets put everything under one roof to serve a collection of villages, larger towns and cities.

This led the way for retail parks where you can eat, watch a movie, try on a frock and pick up a pint of milk. 

Then #Amazon digitised everything from A to Z. 

And now there’s a shift. 

Back to the independent. The local. The SME. The nimble.

Not only in retail, but for people and network organisations too. Commercial and non-profit.

However, progress will be slow or stop altogether if we revert back to the early days and operate in stove pipes. The risk of a revival of dangerous thinking is high. Causing us to focus on scarcity and protecting “the precious“.

Unless the advantages of a digital network to connect the individual or organisation are embraced.

And we can still operate with our own set of values and aims. 

Now with consortiums working in and amongst a sharing economy.

Networks leveraging their strengths into a force multiplier.

There was always someone better than you at bulling shoes. And you could iron a razor-sharp crease better than the next person. Together, the work gets done.

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Elephants, please, one at a time.

Difficult conversations and challenging topics are in vast abundance in our open and transparent culture.

Inviting and addressing the elephant in the room is good practice.

There is also a need to moderate the number of invitations.

If every elephant was invited into the room where you are, space would be limited.

Space for thought and reflection.

Too many chattering elephants are tantamount to a stampede.

Don’t get trampled.

Choose the right room to invite them into.

Let the elephants roam where they belong now and again.

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Are you learning to speak “civvy”?

Last summer when I had a few lessons with Peter Brookes-Smith and learned to code – a new language inevitably came with it.

So not only did I better understand the principles and see that I use and deploy coding more than I realised, learning the lingo helped me to better communicate with people with a higher level of tech experience.

It gave us a common interest too.
And whilst I openly admitted I was a total novice – simply demonstrating a willingness to try – spoke volumes.

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The Great Resignation – Revisited… again!

A few weeks back I mentioned this term in a blog and referred back to it in one of my early postings when I got into writing in 2019. And more recently, there was a great thread on LinkedIn about the “mass exodus” from Uniformed Services.

And now it’s got me thinking… Is it, really? A mass exodus?

Or is it like when you get a new car? And suddenly all you see are cars like that everywhere.

And being more mindful of the algorithm on social media sites and its ability to steer posts of this nature in your direction. If you’re looking you’ll notice 👀, and do what they want you to do – hit the “like” button, gaining more data about your interests, so that they can send more things like that into your newsfeed. And so on…

Obvs I can only offer my POV and reasons for making those 7 clicks.
After serving 15 years in the RN, single, no kids, no cats, I left because I was bored.
After a couple of ships, a couple of Med centres and a couple of MDHUs, the work just wasn’t stretching me enough.
Sure it’s challenging, but for all the wrong reasons.

And I have had the odd wobble since 2019 – questioning whether I made the right decision. But given the global crisis we have all been through, that’s understandable. 99% of the time, I have not regretted leaving. Moreover, I have evolved and grown in my behaviours, skills, confidence and mindset – intrinsic benefits that naturally come with adapting to change.

Are the military leaver stats showing an upward trend post-covid?
And, if they are, is this a spike because people held off because of the pandemic?

Only time will tell us.

The 14-15k leaving annually has been a stat kicking around for some time in the UK. And looking over a longer period of time, might this be another peak, or trough, that naturally emerges through the decades?

Plus, it appears CTP are putting more emphasis (finally 🤦🏼‍♀️) on utilising LinkedIn for job hunting and personal brand.
Then the likes of: FTG, JobOppo, FDM and Barclays recruitment etc who are highly active on LinkedIn and have been talking and posting more about transition success stories.

Algorithm aside, this could offer the appearance that more people are leaving.

More likely in my opinion, instead of skulking in the shadows fearing judgment, SLs are more out and proud and posting it.

And it’s working! Let’s keep up the good work and encourage everyone leaving the Services to post about it and ask for help, advice, contacts and connections.

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You think that’s bad…

Heard a story recently…

A military person, interviewing an actor who was saying how awful it is for them being away from home while filming…

This did not sit well. And I can see how.

But, actors are actors. They are part of a system that puts them in fancy hotels, with runners to get them coffee and agents to do all their planning.

For them, it might not compensate for the long hours, repetitive takes, strain on the impostor syndrome and ability to deliver when being directed by another who has a vision for their project – who is also dealing with their own flavour of impostor syndrome, under the strain of repetitive tasks and fatigue from long hours.

We have this thing in the military called Black Cat. Whereby you one-up the person telling you a story with a more successful (or tragic) story of your own.

And it always used to really grind my gears.

It’s fine when everyone is in on the joke. More of a “This one time at band camp…” type dit.

But often, the situations where the Black Cat was deployed – it was demoralising.

No one should feel they have the position to judge and devalue another’s lived experience, particularly when comparing it through their own life lens. 

A little empathy and time for understanding go a long way.

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You do not have a training problem

There is an abundance of training opportunities. Every organisation, large and small has them.

1:1 training, group training, e-learning, distance learning, self-lead learning, reflective practice, supervision, coaching, mentoring, courses long and short…

In the military… stand by….

Phase 1 Initial, Phase 2 Trade Training, Phase 3 Specialised Training, CPD, DLE, Command courses at various rank levels, promotional course when selected, annual mandatory training, bi-annual mandatory training, one-off mandatory training… Stuff for funzies…

The list goes on.

You do not have a training problem.

So then, how come we still feel there is a training problem?

In which people might be ill-prepared, make mistakes or lack skill and drive towards mastery.

Or where this abundance of training available to people – yet it goes untapped and is not fully utilised.

There is not a training problem.

Sure, not all training is made equal and individual mileage may vary in success.

But the opportunities are there, so what’s the problem?

This is a marketing problem.

And not your typical tactics like ads and attention-grabbing clickbait.

True marketing. Where a change in culture is being sought by empathetic engagement, understanding and enrolment.

Any marketer will tell you that enrolment is the secret sauce.

Once a person engages because they feel understood, they begin to enrole in the problem-solving process. And if you have done your homework correctly, the solution to the problem will be staring them in the face – and that solution is you and the product or service you have to offer.

They will wholeheartedly believe in the solution and it will raise the status story they tell themselves in their head, and they will commit the time and energy to buy.

And by status story I mean – “I am buying an EV because it’s good for the environment (and I am a good person and people will see that)… I am buying these sunglasses because all the cool kids are wearing them (and I believe I am cool and I will fit in)… I am buying this spiraliser to make more healthy meals (and I can tell all my friends how much cooking time it saves and that I care about them).

The same can be said for training.

If organisations put as much time and effort into marketing their training to their employees as they do their products and services to customers – there would not be a training problem.

Or maybe there would…

Because everyone might be scrambling to do the training and then it would be over subscribed.

And that’s not such a bad problem to have.

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Did they win, or did you lose? 

Because there is a difference. 

They might have won through preparedness, focus, wise choices and tactically forcing errors. 

Or, you lost due to too many unforced errors, distractions, mindset and being off your game. 

If you’re not winning as much as you’d like, it might be worth evaluating and addressing how well you are losing. 

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