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By David Harder on May, 16, 2017

Can You Change Careers Brilliantly? Look at This Guy!

If the average college graduate is going to change careers four to six times then why is there anything strange if the rest of us follow suit? I help people define what they want and orchestrate their success in getting exactly that. If that sounds like a stretch, my company has done this with over 40,000 people. We have learned a lot about successful personal change.

The problem for many older (30-70) professionals is in executing successful personal change before it happens from the outside, often in unpleasant ways. Many believe they can’t change or that change is a difficult and unpleasant experience. But, successful change is based on regular and skilled self-inquiry plus developing the specific life skills that bring us success. Every month, individuals come into our programs and craft these vivid new life stories. Their experience is so immersive that not only do they emerge with a new mission, vision and purpose, they understand how to keep reinvention moving forward.

Mel Spiese is one of those individuals and his story demonstrates reinvention can happen with strikingly elegant outcomes. He grew up in a very loving and supportive family. But, they didn’t push him to excel. As college approached, he walked into an ROTC office and realized he wanted to stop being disappointed in himself. During that conversation, he saw the Marines as an opportunity to grow from being average to becoming a man of excellence.

I met Mel Spiese about thirty years later. He walked in the door of our Inspired Work Program as a highly awarded and regarded Major General. For many years, Mel was the Commander of Training and Education Command where he led one of the largest learning organizations in the world. My first impressions of him were of a gentleman filled with tremendous integrity and humility. But, he seemed at a loss of what to do with his life. I have always been respectful of participants who grow up in an organization. These individuals have unique challenges in moving forward because their identities are so tightly connected to their “home.” Mel was going through that experience.

There is often a magic moment that I can see is approaching with a participant, when it is about to come together. Mel was grappling with the answers he had written to some of our questions.

Intuitively, I said, “You hatch people.”

His eyes lit up and he quietly responded, “Yes, that is what I do.”

We continued, “How many people have you hatched?”

“Over 300,000.”

“Is there one other person in the world that could make that statement?”

You could hear a pin drop. It was his turning point.

Within the week, we were working on his business plan. We quickly discovered that McKinsey, Forbes and The Corporate Executive Board recognize the US Marines as the single most effective leadership organization in the world. This is because everyone becomes a leader through values-based training. When someone’s life is on the line, it really doesn’t matter if they are being covered by a high-potential or someone who came from a broken career, they had better be a leader and someone you can depend on. This is why everyone has to embrace the values and code of conduct developed by the Marines.

Mel once said to me, “We don’t have employee engagement issues with the Marines.”

What Mel brings to organizations isn’t a set of formulas, he brings a set of values that establish a daily code in how to live and how to work. Many of us think of military training with someone yelling at recruits and pushing them through risky maneuvers. But what turns every recruit into a leader at the Marines is the daily practice of honesty, integrity, care, humility and more. Practice the values and you become a stronger and better person. You become Mel. This is what makes his work so special. He creates leaders out of everyone. Not one employee or worker is left out.

There is a video we produced of Mel’s life is available on his home page. It was taken in my living room and I am proud to introduce him to our readers. To see it, click here.

What can all of us learn from his example:

  • There is always the perfect place for us if we take the initiative to look
  • We are often so close to our value that a little objectivity from others is helpful
  • Courage is the commitment to take action, even when we are frightened

Today, Leaders Can Be Made delivers values-based training to organizations throughout the world. If you have any questions about Mel or about us, please feel free to reach out.

Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.

P: (310) 277-4850 / E:

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