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Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"
Old 04-26-2007, 06:20 PM   #1
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Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"

I just gave away my fifth copy of Bob's book. Two more on order!

A woman came to our house to look at a couple barstools we'd put on Craigslist. She mentioned that she was married to a submariner and I asked what he was doing. She started telling me about their family and before I knew it we'd been talking for half an hour.

She said he was a chief petty officer and would hit 20 years of service in late 2008. He was staying on active duty to see if he'd make E-8 on shore duty and wondering whether it was worth going back to sea to get a competitive evaluation ranking. But he was also pushing through his associates' degree, working on a bachelors', and enjoying time with their two young kids.

His job is particularly sucky at the moment because his department head is on temporary "individual augmentation" duty in Florida. (It's one way that the Navy backfills the Army's Iraq workload.) His Pearl Harbor department is a detachment of a Mainland command so the XO is also a few time zones away. This CPO is making decisions and fixing problems, which he's eminently qualified to do, but he was getting a lot of second-guessing from his absentee bosses. He was on a hotspot at the moment and workplace tensions were running a bit high.

It's my opinion that he has no realistic chance of making E-8 without going back to sea (and possibly contracting the Sopranos to work on all the other E-7s & E-8s in his rate). Even then his chances would be less than 50% within five years. If he did select to E-8, he'd be sent back to sea duty again while his spouse raised the kids. He was also putting in his application for a promotion to Chief Warrant Officer, which would probably be better odds than E-8 but which would also possibly take three or four years (during which time he'd be ordered back to sea duty). If he was selected for CWO-2 then he'd be immediately ordered back to, you guessed it, sea duty. It's what you do in the Navy, but he had a family now and separation was a big concern for both him and his spouse.

OTOH he could stop trying to get promoted (and going back to sea) to retire at 20 to a COLA pension of about $22K/year with TRICARE. However they were worried about finding a Hawaii home, paying off their bills, and surviving on $1800/month until her career takes off. He was also concerned about being able to find a job.

After a while she asked me where I'd been stationed. I told her and she mentioned that she'd loved their tour at my final command. You veterans know how this ends and, sure enough, I'd worked with her spouse for a couple years before their marriage.

The reason the guy was getting yelled at by his chain of command was because when he worked with me he'd become accustomed to making decisions, fixing problems, and telling me about it later. Yet apparently not everyone in the Navy likes that management style. When he'd worked with me he'd averted disasters several times and also found a lot of ways to improve training without raising expenses, but now he was getting nitpicked to death on bureaucracy. He's a computer wizard and a wonderful instructor who'd have a civil-service or civilian job in a heartbeat, yet 20 years of military service has convinced yet another veteran that he's unemployable.

So I gave her a copy of Bob's book and suggested that they let me know if they have any questions. He also needs to go to the military's transition-assistance planning seminar as soon as he can get the time off. And now I'm going to have to keep an eye on the new board member signups for a few weeks!

He doesn't surf, either. Yet.
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"
Old 04-27-2007, 07:47 AM   #2
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"

Well done.
You seem to be deliberately involved in subversive activities ...

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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"
Old 04-27-2007, 08:01 AM   #3
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"

Wasn't there a line in the Caine Mutiny: "The military is a system designed by geniuses to be run by idiots." Or some such wording. Bureaucrats do not like independence and do not want to solve problems. They just want to talk about them over and over again.

Hope he listens to you. A computer wizard can always get a job. The Navy will be worse off without him, but they'll still have the nit-pickers.
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"
Old 04-27-2007, 08:41 AM   #4
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"

I used to call sessions with my bosses "risk-sharing sessions" because I said that the more they know about what I am doing the more responsibility they carry for the results. IOW by not telling them everything I was lightening their load by carrying my share of responsibility.

It did not always go over well but they all appreciated the conversations. And, surprisingly, many of them adapted to it quite well and appreciated my role. When things were starting have the potential to go sideways , I always alerted them so they would not be caught off-guard.
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"
Old 04-27-2007, 02:36 PM   #5
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
His job is particularly sucky at the moment because his department head is on temporary "individual augmentation" duty in Florida.... This CPO is making decisions and fixing problems, which he's eminently qualified to do, but he was getting a lot of second-guessing from his absentee bosses. He was on a hotspot at the moment and workplace tensions were running a bit high.... The reason the guy was getting yelled at by his chain of command was because when he worked with me he'd become accustomed to making decisions, fixing problems, and telling me about it later.Yet apparently not everyone in the Navy likes that management style.
No wonder he is unhappy: navy shore duty is typically a terrible waste of time. In my experience, 'doers' spend as much time at sea as possible, and only pencil-pushers and form-fillers voluntarily accept shore assignments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
20 years of military service has convinced yet another veteran that he's unemployable.
It is sad but true that many career military people are effectively unemployable in a profit-oriented, results-driven civilian environment. But there are certainly exceptions. If this fellow has a good work ethic, he shouldn't have any particular problems finding a decent job.
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"
Old 04-27-2007, 02:56 PM   #6
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milton
In my experience, 'doers' spend as much time at sea as possible, and only pencil-pushers and form-fillers voluntarily accept shore assignments.
I don't know what your experience has been, but I'd think that many would see shore duty as a great opportunity to spend time with their families. I hated serving with a CO whose spouse kept asking "Isn't it time for you guys to be going back to sea yet?"

IIRC the enlisted assignment officers wouldn't let anyone do more than two sea tours in a row, and the officers would be too junior to keep going back-to-back.

The most miserable people I ever worked for/with were the ones who thought it was a good idea to pursue back-to-back sea tours. The concept of taking a break and recharging their psyches, let alone giving their shipmates a break of their own, never seemed to occur to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milton
It is sad but true that many career military people are effectively unemployable in a profit-oriented, results-driven civilian environment. But there are certainly exceptions. If this fellow has a good work ethic, he shouldn't have any particular problems finding a decent job.
I'm not sure how you mean that, and the second sentence seems to be reaching a different conclusion than the first...
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"
Old 04-27-2007, 03:07 PM   #7
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
I just gave away my fifth copy of Bob's book. Two more on order!
I think Bob should be giving you a price discount!
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"
Old 04-27-2007, 04:32 PM   #8
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Re: Gave away another "Work Less, Live More"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
I'm not sure how you mean that, and the second sentence seems to be reaching a different conclusion than the first...
Please read my comment again. The first sentence was a generalization; the second was an exception.

I do not believe that all career military people are lazy, dispirited, or lacking personal initiative. Unfortunately, the artificial, ‘CYA’, bureaucratic environment certainly has that effect on many.
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