There is a science and an art to the military. Each aspect requires the service member to balance time, capability, and motivation to achieving an end state. Opportunities will often be presented which allow service members to perform tasks of increased responsibility, but they also require volunteering.
The military has a term for those who seek to get ahead only when people are looking. It is called a “Spotlight Ranger.” This is the person that waits to perform a simple task until the moment that the supervisor walks in the door, all the while making sure it is known that they are always working. Yet, when that same supervisor steps out of the room, they go back to what they were doing before – which is generally nothing.
The goal for separating oneself from one’s peers, is to demonstrate competence and capabilities, and to couple that with professionalism. It is not as hard as it sounds. First, a service member must recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and find ways to improve on their weaknesses. Then, when opportunities to demonstrate strength appear, and you have the time to perform the task, volunteer.
This is not about spotlighting. This is about helping to improve the organization by taking on added responsibility. Once the task is complete, do not brag about it or talk about how good of a job was performed. Simply provide the completed project and move on. When peers volunteer for tasks or are directed to perform a task, consider helping when available. Again, this is not about being seen helping. This is about being a peer, about the camaraderie developed between fellow service members.
Volunteering is about creating opportunity. It gives back to the organization, helps to streamline processes by ensuring that no one individual is attempting to perform all actions, and its just being generally helpful. In an obtuse way, if the goal is to not be selected, then the solution is to volunteer early and often. This will allow leadership to see that you are available, but that no one else is stepping up to take on the tasks. After a few times they will push back at your volunteering and select others.
It is the responsibility of the leadership to recognize when people are being overwhelmed by taskings. All too often the strong horse syndrome affects an organization. This is when the same reliable person is volunteered repeatedly until they burn out. This is where volunteering for a burdensome task takes it even further by helping to give those who need it a break.
Volunteering is simple. It can be filling up sand bags with subordinates when you are a leader to help the process along, or teaching a class on how to tie knots; it gives an opportunity to develop physically, mentally and emotionally. It should be embraced, not avoided. It should be the goal, not the bane of every service member.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.