The Importance of Attitude in Finding That Big Job

(U.S. Air Force)

If you've followed my writing here on, you know I typically share practical and strategic tips for a successful post-military career. But today I'd like to talk about two things you may not be focusing on as you get ready to leave your service: motivation and attitude.

While you'll need several tools to prepare and execute a successful transition and launch your next career, it's not all about resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, dress-for-success and network of referral contacts. How you feel and communicate your confidence makes a big difference.

What Do You Want?

Here's an example of how attitude and motivation play out in the transition: A colleague of mine runs the veteran hiring program for a very large company. A former Army officer, he's passionate about hiring military talent and coaching them through the application and onboarding process.

Recently, he interviewed a young Marine who was passionate and excited about the opportunity to work for this company. He oozed enthusiasm for the company brand, values, mission, logo -- everything.

He had a bit "too much" passion, as my friend describes it. He came on too strong and eager. My friend, who saw this Marine's potential, recognized that his love of the company was great, but he was displaying manic behavior more than enthusiasm. He asked the Marine, "What do you want?"

The young man replied that he needed to get a job, income, money -- and that this company was his dream.

Recognizing that the hiring process would not be swift (for large companies it can take months to get hired on), my friend encouraged the young Marine to find a job anywhere. Get the paycheck coming in.

"Take your foot off the gas and breathe. Then, go through the application process at our company and you won't come across as desperate, but rather as motivated and informed," he told the young man. And it worked.

If your goal is to secure income post-military, then get a job to do that. Your long term vision can still be to grow a meaningful career that you find fulfilling. But appearing too eager or desperate will turn off employers.

The Right Mindset

In sports, coaches often ask the players, "are you playing to win or playing not to lose?" There's a huge difference! Focusing on what you want and forming a clear vision of what success will look like empowers you to attract the ingredients and strategies you need to get there. Some refer to this as the "scarcity versus abundance" mentality -- if you pay attention to what you want to have (being grateful for what you have) you attract more of what you want.

Mindset and attitude matter. Here are some reminders:

  • You may have to fake it until you make it, showing more confidence than you feel at the outset. People are drawn to people who believe in themselves. Show them you're worth believing in.
  • What you focus on is what you'll attract. Another great reminder comes from my colleague who tells her team, "If you're on a bicycle and you're focused on avoiding that tree over there, you watch the tree. Inevitably, you'll run into the tree." Instead, she advises, focus on what you want -- not what you want to avoid.
  • Remember the science of experience-dependent neuroplasticity: Your brain responds to what you focus on by expanding, growing and developing towards those intentions. Your thoughts and feelings have tremendous power. You can actually change your brain by focusing on more positive experiences.

As challenging and exciting as the transition is, keeping a healthy and productive attitude and mindset will serve you well in both the short and long term.

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