It doesn’t necessarily take personally witnessing death to realize how short life truly is. In fact, death needn’t be involved at all to be reminded how quickly things come to an end. Last month I was in Great Lakes and had the pleasure of talking with new recruits about their future in our┬áNavy. Two weeks ago I was in Newport speaking with recent Officer Candidate School graduates about the journey ahead. Last week I was honored to be the Presiding Officer in the retirement of one of my favorite Shipmates, Lieutenant Jennifer Lovejoy. Each of these three opportunities to speak with, to and about Shipmates was unique, but there was a common thread…all were focused the journey. The new members of our Navy were not interested in charting out their career or identifying a path to a certain paygrade or job. Instead, they were focused on having fun, doing “cool stuff” and making a difference. Not surprising, the retirement ceremony was a celebration of a Shipmate who did just that during her career.

As I stated in my remarks at the ceremony…

“Today we celebrate not the end of Jennifer’s Navy adventure, but the journey itself. For those of you in the audience still enjoying the privilege of wearing the uniform, please consider following Jennifer’s example…

  • Appreciate the journey
  • Recognize it is not about promotion; it’s not about “checking boxes”
  • It’s about making a difference, adding value and leaving a legacy.”

Over the course of one month, I saw the circle of a career in time-lapsed images. In the backdrop, I couldn’t help but see my career and realize my Navy journey could be over in as few as two years. Whether it is two years or twelve, I will continue to give the Navy 100%. I know it will be all but impossible to truly measure success in a commonly accepted way at the end of this journey, as we have no formal metrics. My hope is that we measure our contributions by the expressions of gratitude from Shipmates, our ability to create true value for our Navy, and the furthering of a collaborative, self-synchronizing culture.

I am reminded of Jim Rohn who used the headlights of a car to illustrate his point of focusing on the journey. When we drive our car at night towards a destination, we are never looking beyond the distance of our headlights. We don’t because we physically can’t, attempting to would distract us from effectively making more immediate decisions, and quite honestly anything over the horizon isn’t all that relevant until it comes into our field of view.

Life is too short…Do good, make a difference, enjoy the journey!

  • How do you measure success?
  • How often are you given the opportunity to say, “You are welcome?”
  • Are you spending too much time trying to see beyond the headlights?