Soldier reunited with her son on a sunny day Stock Photo - 36405597

After a 26-year military career that spanned both active and reserve duty, I’m convinced that experience is the hardest teacher since it gives the exam before any lessons are taught. Here are some of the important lessons I’ve learned over the past two decades in uniform and from my experiences in public service and the private sector.

1) Take care of yourself 

You need to take care of your own health, family, education and career first. Don’t put off going to the doctor, attending family events, investing, or planning your education and career since no one else will.

2) Know what’s important

There’s always more to accomplish than time allows and attempting to do everything is a recipe for disaster and burnout.

3) Be positive

Optimism is a force multiplier that can enable monumental accomplishment. It draws people towards your purpose while negative attitudes push them away.

4) Read 

One of the best ways to learn and expand your horizons is through reading. Books, magazines, journals and blogs are great sources of information.

5) Listen

Don’t confuse hearing, which is passive, with the active function of listening. Listening results in understanding and learning, which is critical to success.

6) Think

No situation is permanent and thinking is the first step to effecting change. Think about where you’re at and what you want to accomplish.

7) Follow-Through

Commit to your actions and what you tell others you’ll accomplish. Not doing what you say erodes creditability and empowers resistance.

8) Focus on results

Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment since results are what matter.



9) Have a Mentor

Everyone should have at least one trusted advisor they can speak with, discuss ideas and seek council.

10) Start planning now

Decisions made while in uniform will have a major impact on your post-military life. Lifestyle, occupation, income and location are a few items to consider.

For further hints, see Brian Niswander’s article at

Go to, click on the “Looking for People” tab, then view “Veterans Solutions”. To see more information for Veterans, please join our LinkedIn group, Veterans Hiring Solutions for Veterans at If you have specific questions, contact me at  [email protected]