I stood on the Parade Square and saluted.
I watched as the latest intake of future Officers that I’d had the privilege of Commanding marched past. It was my last day in uniform after 16 years service as an Army officer and this seemed a very fitting way to spend it. I was so proud of them all and excited at the future that lay ahead of them.
What has 16 years as an Army Officer taught me?
I have learned that the following transferable skills are inherent in any female who has ‘survived Sandhurst’, been in the Army and left to enter Civilian life1:
1. Getting ready for a special function takes 10 minutes as opposed to the 5 for a normal night out.
2. You don’t wear make on a daily basis, still, and despite the dazzling array of cosmetics available at Boots your make up consists of no more than a dried up mascara wand and a lipstick which cleverly doubles as eyeshadow.
3. When the kids are whinging and whining you say DISAPPEAR in a Sgt Major style and STAND STILL whilst attempting to brush their teeth as they wriggle like conga eels.
4. You still use phrases like jack brew, doing phys, clear left and roger’ instead of OK.
5. ’Squaring away your admin’ is anything from shaving your legs (Usually done in the shower with shampoo foam to save time) to filing documents.
6. You have a Main Events List (MEL), a synch matrix and an admin instruction for any major event such as a wedding or holiday.
7. You always find a piece of grass to point to things on a map, never your finger.
8. Porta-loos at public events don’t phase you. After all it has a door and walls, maybe even loo roll!
9. Sleep deprivation caused by babies and small children is a doddle because you did Sandhurst!
10. You always arrive 5 minutes before ( and often 5 minutes before that). It just makes sense!
11. You have a stack of leftover rations in case of an emergency/zombie apocalypse.
12. Your kids stand to attention when having new shoes checked in a shop.
13. You always say 1300hrs never 1pm!
14. You don’t own a fancy handbag as pockets or a day sack will do.
15. You always end up walking in step with the person next to you. Adapting to the environment.
16. The Sgt Major was ALWAYS right!
These reflections did get me thinking about how my experience has changed my character and how it has made me more resilient.
1. You can tackle anything because it will never be as bad as your worst day at Sandhurst or on Operations.
2. No plan survives contact with the enemy…..adapt, adopt and overcome, keep sight of your goals and keep going.
There is a lot of talk in commercial circles about resilience at the moment, it has many definitions, here are a few of them.
1. Ability of an individual to adapt to stress and adversity. (Human)
2. To return to an original form after being bent or compressed. (Object)
Resilient people bounce back and learn by experiences. Resilient people get stronger and adapt, they learn lessons and move on. Unlike inanimate objects though people are never the same again. I’m not the same person that I was when I walked through the gates of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in January 2000 but I am the leader and role model I am today because of what those experiences taught me.
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” C S Lewis.
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