Recently I’ve been tossing around this idea of a “Third Identity” for Veterans when referring to career and life, post-military. I call it a “Third Identity” because Veterans typically had an identity of who they were before the military; they then assume a new identity in the military (as their life and experience in uniform would warrant). Finally one exits the military and who the Veteran identifies himself to be post-military is rarely the same person he was before or during his time of service. With all the variables that come with it – there is one common trait that builds the person, and should be minded: Integrity.
I don’t mean just integrity as in honesty; I mean “integrity” as in the consistency, or truancy of behavior. For this, I’m going to attempt to weave a common thread through the theories, observations and expertise of three gentlemen far smarter than myself – as I’ve interpreted from their books.
What do Jim Joseph, Joe Navarro, and Charles L. Allen all have in common? They’ve all stressed the importance of consistency in behavior. Why?
Jim Joseph is the largely successful, global branding guru – who has experienced success as an entrepreneur, corporate leader, professor, father and author – penning 4 great books (of which I’ve finished three and am due to order his latest “Out and About Dad”). Jim’s series of “The Experience Effect” reiterates the need for consistency in business, employee, and personal behavior in order to gain positive rapport with a target audience (That is a gross over-simplification, but feel free to read up yourself J). Jim says it best when wrapping up “The Experience Effect for Small Business”:
“Live life consistently with the brand you’ve established for yourself and link it to your small business. Make personal choices that are consistent with your brand, and make personal decisions that reinforce and support the decisions of the business that will aid in its success.”
Joe Navarro is an acclaimed FBI Interrogator and Investigator and has literally, written the book on detecting deception for the FBI. You can read his work in “What Every Body is Saying”. When Joe goes deeper into identifying deception, he repeats both the difficulty in doing so – but also, the importance of “Synchrony”.
Synchrony is as it sounds, when all elements of communication are synchronized in delivering a consistent message. But, when the verbal message doesn’t match the non-verbal message (body language) something is off. As Joe will explain, seeing this sort of “asynchrony” will cause discomfort in both the communicator and who the person is communicating with. It makes sense – how uncomfortable is it to just say the word “No” while nodding your head yes?
Lastly, Charles Lawrence Allen is a published Psychotherapist and Counselor. In his book, “Why Good People Make Bad Choices”, Charles describes the constant argument all people face. The argument between stated (and ideally behaved/demonstrated) values, and one’s ego. The ego, as Charles will tell you, has a purpose that contributes to human survival. It also has a strong penchant for questioning one’s integrity.
In his book, Charles emphasizes, that peace within one’s self is found as consistency is established with stated values and demonstrated behaviors. It’s a good read for anyone thinking about how their own brain operates, or why they keep grabbing the King Size candy even though they know beach season is coming up.
The common thread? Consistency is good; Inconsistency is not. Inconsistent brand experiences will end up losing your company money; enough so to constitute a national shutdown to commence a day of training (like Starbucks did). Inconsistent body language – or non-verbal communication that doesn’t match what your mouth is saying, will result in discomfort and distrust with whom you are speaking. Inconsistent actions that do not agree with your own stated values will cause stress and hyper-tension, discomfort, and lack of happiness. These are all issues that we all face – and issues that Veterans must face in a condensed timeline when searching for their Third Identity.
That search will likely take longer than your savings account will cover. However, making it through that identification phase as you find your identity will be much more likely if you take a moment to establish your priorities, and make conscious decisions to reinforce those priorities. It will be visible with friends, families and on interviews; and to someone searching for a sense of purpose – it will be most importantly visible – in the mirror.