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  • Entrepreneurs

    4 things the RAF taught me about business



    I recently posted this article on Facebook and Vanessa asked me to share it here - I hope it's useful in any small way :-)

    As a 4th generation RAF pilot I’ve spent the majority of my life living in a military environment.

    Great grandad flew in the Great War, both Grandads we’re WW2 aircrew and Dad was a Cold War era fighter pilot.

    Despite trying my hardest not to (a story for another time), flying was in the DNA and the inevitable happened in Oct 2001 when I rocked up, wide eyed and nervous as hell, at the doors of the RAF College to start officer training.

    After 12 intense years with extreme highs and lows, (and a few stories to tell) it was time for another challenge, and I left the military to go it alone in business.

    At first I didn’t realise it, but there are huge lessons learned in the military that are transferable to business.

    I’ve tried to detail my top 4...

    1. Money Follows Service

    The “Services” are named as such for a reason.

    They serve others.

    Whether it’s their own or other countries, in times of war or peace, hostile or humanitarian reasons…

    There is a bigger purpose.

    (And please, I don’t want to go into or spark any form of political discussion here which is over most of our pay grades - that’s not the point of the post).

    Members of our armed forces do not join for selfish or egotistical reasons and often spend significant periods of time away from friends, family and loved ones, in distinctly sub-optimal environments with low salaries.

    Sacrifice was part and parcel of the job in every form.

    If there is anything I have taken from my 12 years in the RAF, it is the importance of service to others.

    Apply this into your business, any business, and you will succeed.

    Because businesses should exist to create, supply, innovate and serve their clients and customers BEFORE making profits…

    Money follows service.

    Not the other way around.

    2. Excellence Wins

    As a military pilot, we spent a good portion of our time in training.

    Everything we did was about precision.

    To take nothing more than a jet, a paper map and a 1960’s stopwatch…

    …and fly around the UK, 250 feet off the ground at 7 miles a minute and put a bomb through a letterbox within 5 seconds of a nominated time…

    Took skill.

    Was this because military pilots are demigods, born with an innate ability to interface with these aircraft on a cerebral level, possessing superior hand eye coordination and brains that can process stimuli at a rate greater than most supercomputers…

    (Not to mention an aggressively chiseled chin)

    Of course not.

    We started on the most basic and slow aircraft we could. We immersed ourselves in the job and it became a way of life. We practised day in and day out for YEARS learning our trade.

    I remember spending weeks of evenings and weekends sitting in front of cardboard cockpits learning checks and procedures by wrote.

    I’m sure you’ve heard of the 10,000 hour rule.

    Excellence doesn’t come overnight.

    We live in a world of instant gratification where people want it all yesterday and give up quickly when they don’t make their first million in year one.

    Excellence takes application and time and is a humbling experience as you make mistakes, accept the feedback and improve.

    But when you have achieved it - you will attract more high quality business to you than you can deal with.

    3. The Importance Of Community.

    This wasn’t a job - it was a lifestyle.

    We lived out of each other's pockets for years, trusted each other with our lives on a daily basis and created bonds that will last for life.

    And that support network was vital to carry you through the hard times - of which there were plenty.

    Business can be a lonely place - with it’s own challenges and hard times.

    As humans we crave significance and by building community we can satisfy that.

    When I study successful businesses - one of the things that is obvious is the internal culture they’ve created.

    People want to work for them, and feel they are part of something… Bigger.

    So how can you create community, either internally in your business or externally with your market?

    Get this right and you will lead a more enriched and fulfilled life with a thriving business.

    4. The 6 (or 7) P’s!

    Prior Preparation & Planning Prevents P*&s Poor Performance.

    90% of our job was done in the planning stage.

    Get this right and often missions ran on rails.

    When we went flying we would have very defined objectives and understood outcomes.

    Could you imagine taking off from point A, having to get to point B but no one told you where it was?

    The chances of you setting off in the right direction are almost zero - you’re going to run out of gas along the way.

    (And if if you do find it you probably won’t even realise you have!)

    Business is no different.

    If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to move in the right direction and ever get there…?

    Your business is about getting from A to B.

    Define what B is.

    How do you want your life to look, your business to look, your routine to look?

    Do you want a lifestyle business that gives you mobility, freedom and monthly cash flow, or are you growing an international conglomerate that you can sell for billions in the future.

    There is no right or wrong, just what you’re connected with.

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    I hope this article may stimulate thought or help your own business in some small way.

    Most important thing is to enjoy and be connected to the process.

    ?

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    Excellent motivational post - I feel like buying another house today now!

    The Services give you focus , drive , discipline and determination to succeed

    Your specific role even more so.

    Those skills  transfer well  and  when replicated in business  will make you a million

    Thank you and Good Luck.

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    Jonathan Clarke. http://www.buytoletmk.com

    Love it JC - (make sure it's not a lemon ;-) )

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    Practice makes perfect.

    As Gary Player the golfer ssid

    The more I practice the luckier I get!!

    The Forces have a very good methodology

    Train hard fight easy!

    Bringing colleagues along with you as part of a valued and recognised team be that a Squadron Leader a platoon sergeant or a manager will usually be effective.

    Leading from the front and by example will generate loyalty.

    Share hardships and you can get people to do almost anything you want them to.

    They will buy into the collective if they can see they are valued and considered.

    It is why submarines always have the best cooks

    Not having so would cause a mutiny!!

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    Hi Rob,

    Thank you for posting this article.

    I always think it is interesting what we can apply to property and business from different disciplines or sectors, and the transferrable skills we can bring when moving from one career to another.

    Some examples:

    Lessons from Nadal: A winner's mindset in property ...

    31DoPI #11: Coping with redundancy & life after being made redundant. 

    recession, redundancy and starting afresh

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    Superbly said!  Point 1, in particular, nails it for me, and is perhaps the aspect most lacking in the property sector (in my experience). 

    Thank you for your service.

    All the best

    Helen


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    God what a breath of fresh air

    I too served in the Army as an officer Like you I went to Officers Collage Hardest 9 months of my life

    But the knowledge I gained was fantastic

    There service commanding a Company of Solders Bosnia Cyprus 1st Gulf war and Northern Ireland

    Most civilians don't understand planning and time keeping who some business run in the uk is beyond belief

    My Forces  Days were some of the most traumatic of my life

    Pressure to work as a team to get a job done because lives depend on it in no mean task

    I have no regrets I use the same skills today in my business every day

    The solders are my customers and I deal with there problems in the very same way I did with the forces family

    The skills are totally transferable and what skills I was given by the Tax Payer.

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    Learn Change and Adapt ?????

    All comments are for casual information purposes only. If you wish to rely on any advice I have given please ensure you obtain independent specialist advice from a third party. No liability is accepted for comments made.


    I see many ex servicemen become extremely successful in business :-)

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    100% correct

    There is an ethos in the forces which civilians never see

    its a team work as you have said

    and its service to others

    The Boss may get the pat on the back but the Boss then pats the team on the back

    I have never found the same in civilian life

    To drink out of another persons mug when they have Tea in it is just something a Serviceman will do - its comradeship

    we share with comrades

    If I was in a coffee shop and did that I would get a strange look

    I still see my old soldiers at regimental get together and the bond is still there

    I have been to some great RAF Officers mess -   the humour is second to none and the mess games are legendary

    I got caught with the Lancaster Bomber Game - got wet through some great times a civilian would have been upset in genaral

    My happiest course was a helicopter handling course all Tri Service and what a laugh it was even though we were out in all weathers

    The RAF Regiment were mad but we will not go there lol.

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    Learn Change and Adapt ?????

    All comments are for casual information purposes only. If you wish to rely on any advice I have given please ensure you obtain independent specialist advice from a third party. No liability is accepted for comments made.

    My father was a Squadron Leader in the RAF and my mum tells me tales of a gang of pilots riding bicycles through the Officer's Mess and other raucous activities!

    I guess when you are under such pressure, you need to be able to find a release! Smile

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