Enlisting in the Army was one of the best and one of the worst times of my life.
It was the best because I found out that I was capable of doing way more than I thought was possible. I learned how to operate as a team member and the value of relying on your buddy when the crap hit the fan. I discovered the true meaning of honor, courage, and serving. I also got to experience some things few people will ever experience. It was the worst of times because there is nothing joyful about being separated from family or dealing with military red tape or knowing that you or your friends could end up a casualty of training or war. All that being said, I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.
There are some incredible lessons I learned in the military, but one of the most shocking centered on the bad asses or heroes and the bedtime storytellers.
I knew several Army Rangers and Special Forces guys who had done some incredible stuff. I was friends with men who earned the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB), an award only given to Infantry troops who served in ground combat. These men are the bad asses, the true Rambo types who had seen action and will always be the true meaning of hero. I kind of expected them to always be sharing their amazing stories — the kinds of stories you see in action movies or read in Tom Clancy novels. I thought that bad asses walked around with that attitude of special abilities and that they all had arms the size of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando. I was so very wrong!
What I found out was that the guys who had seen any real action or who earned their right to be in a special unit were very quiet and reserved. They didn’t offer up tales of super missions and most of them looked and acted like regular Joes. You would never figure these men to be anything special and they never led you on to make you believe that they were.
The Bedtime Storytellers
Then there’s another type of soldier in the military – the guys who wanted to be special and have others treat them as such. These were the men who could talk all about their “missions” and the battles they had been in. They were the ones who could hit their target 300 yards away with a pistol or had served in Army Recon, or even better, attended sniper school. The could out bench-press their buddies and drink more beers than the entire platoon. I called them the “Bedtime Storyteller.”
These were the troops who never saw any real action. They may have been on the ground during a combat mission but were in the rear with the gear. These were the types of people who could tell you stories upon stories and always could “one up” you on anything you said. Bedtime Storytellers live to be the center of attention and they never did anything like the real heroes.
These People Exist In Business Too
I’ve known some entrepreneurs who have done some amazing work through their business and who have contributed so much (money and time) to their community or industry. Yet you may never know it because they don’t shout about it from the rooftops or find ways to be in the spotlight. They do what they do without any interest for fanfare or followers. These entrepreneurs just want to make cool stuff and they genuinely want to help people. They are the heroes of business.
Then there’s the other entrepreneurs I know. They truly are good people but they make every story, every idea about themselves. It’s easy for these individuals to contribute to their community and industry, but then they use it for personal recognition. These business gurus can always “one up” you in the game and love to be the center of attention. Sometimes they’ll even talk about their war experience when they’ve never actually been in the trenches themselves. They are the bedtime storytellers of business.
Be the Hero, Not the Bedtime Storyteller
When it comes to business, be the kind of person who earns industry respect or recognition because of what you do, not by what you say. Be the entrepreneur who is truly genuine and who gives without the need for personal recognition. Don’t make it your purpose to be the one in the spotlight, but to be humble and serve for the sake of serving.
In the military, nobody really likes the bedtime storytellers. The same goes in the business world.