The Transition Part One

When I transitioned to becoming a Warrant Officer there was a lot I didn’t know. Truth be told I’m sure there is plenty I still don’t know. But you know what…. I’m here to share with you what I’ve gathered from my time. And I ask that you jump into the comments and you let me know what you learned so we can make this an amazing tool for the future of our Cohort.

When I started writing this I honestly got stuck. I know what I learned firsthand from the transition but I was so bogged down in trying to condense it to fit into one blog that I worked myself right out of my headspace. Honestly, the writing part is easy for me, but summing up my thoughts caught me off guard. That was until my EBH Counselor, (yes, you read that correctly) reminded me that this does not have to have a concrete ending. The topic is fluid and ever-changing as are our experiences as Warrant Officers. So with that, this will be Part One of the Transition. There will be additional parts to follow as I feel compelled to write them, but believe me, I’m going to share.

I knew going from enlisted to an officer was going to be a change. I knew my left and right limits as a Sergeant First Class, I’d run an organization as a First Sergeant, I’d supervised military personnel from all branches of service, and had civilian employees directly report to me…. But I’d never been a Warrant Officer before. The beginning of my transition started the day I legitimately decided to put in my packet to the Warrant Officer Selection Board. I remember it like it was yesterday, I got terrible news (terrible for enlisted me of course) and I decided I was done letting other people dictate when I’d get promoted. In this step, I took my career into my hands and made the decision that would forever change my life.

The next part of my transition happened when I was selected to attend Warrant Officer Candidate School and my Career Manager reached out to understand what MY goals for my career were, where I’d like to be stationed, and what kind of Family impacting circumstances I had. This is a level of care that I hadn’t seen prior. It made me feel a sense of control in my being and who I was meant to be. School validated my knowledge and my ability to pay attention to detail 😅 while also introducing me to the cohort. From the moment I was selected there seemed to have been a shift in the atmosphere. From sitting in a Corps that was cutthroat and often self-serving, to being amongst people who would truly do what it took for YOU to succeed with no credit given to them.

The day I walked into my first unit after transitioning the entire world was different. People who didn’t know me saw me and made assumptions about how smart and prepared I was, there were hand salutes galore, and most notable my new Brigade Commander saw me in the hallway and stopped dead in his tracks to introduce himself and after my introduction, he said: “Chief, I’m so glad you’re here!”. What?! This is what it’s like on the other side of the fence?! Obviously, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine or we wouldn’t be reading this but first impressions are lasting impressions! So here’s to the rain, and no matter how sunny it was, it certainly had a way of raining on me.

Tough conversations abound. When I arrived at my position I was taken aback by the situation. There was only one way I knew to correct it. So what did I do? I dug in! I know that I signed up to be a leader in my field and the first thing I had to do in my new position was get my uniform dirty by getting into the mud with my team and pulling it out of the dirt It’d landed in. I had to dig into the books, check the stats, request support, and slowly like a wrecker trapped in the mud, we pulled out of the situation we were in.

That journey was not easy! It involved explaining to people my worth as a Warrant Officer. Letting them know the things I would not be doing but how I could assist in getting after the end goal. These conversations were hard, but they set a clear understanding of who I was and what my boundaries were. Now don’t get me wrong I didn’t walk into the office with the “I ain’t doing any of that” attitude, but I did come in and explain why it wouldn’t be happening the way the vision was presented to me. Slowly but surely we came to an amazing understanding and a system flourished. Like all things, it was short-lived.

The transition also taught me that I can not place the blame for everything on myself. This took a trip to EBH in a very stressed state to see it. Essentially, I noticed a shift in the office when we had some people transition, and although for the most part, people continued to do what was needed we now had a wildcard present. I tried to make adjustments to ensure that the mission we had continued to be completed but I was placing all of “the things” into my lap until I was ready to knock them all over. I had to realize (and this took a few sessions and a lot of open dialogue) that you can’t control everything! I had to stop reacting to the things I knew were going to go poorly when they did because it was sucking the energy out of me! I had to completely change the way I dealt with the situation so that I didn’t pull myself into a negative space or subsequently let the shop slip into one. This was by far one of my hardest lessons even though it sounds so easy.

It wasn’t until I finally started just letting things be as they were and only taking ownership of the things I could control did I truly become one with my position. The Chief's nonchalant attitude kicked in and it became more about coaching, training, and mentoring the people who wanted the information that it was trying to fix people who wanted to be broken. This was the most freeing part of the entire process. I was truly able to let go of it also and embrace the Chief that lay dormant inside of me.

And that seems like as good a spot as any to stop part one. If this is your first time joining us on the Blog, make sure you reach back to our previous posts. We have content on WOCS prep, Post WOCS advice, WOBC completion, and ORB updates. If you’d like information on a specific topic, fill out our contact card and let us know. This is only the beginning of The Transition series look for part two in the future.
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