How Do You Make A Wildly Successful Career Transition?
Mel Spiese devoted his entire life to doing the right thing. He grew up in a very loving and supportive family and yet, they didn’t push him to excel. So, he didn’t. As college approached, he walked into an ROTC office and realized they offered the possibility of becoming someone and stop being disappointed in himself. He loved the Marines and over time, received several degrees, rose through the ranks, and eventually became a Major General in charge of all training and development.
When someone grows up professionally in one organization, they often leave with a unique set of challenges. There is no evidence they will succeed somewhere else. They often have difficulty defining “what’s next” in a meaningful and effective way. Mel broke through all of that with courage and dignity. How do I know? I was there when it happened.
We met about thirty years after he joined the Marines. He walked in the door of our Inspired Work Program as a highly awarded and regarded Major General. Mel was the Commander of Training and Education Command where he led one of the largest learning organizations in the world. My first impression of him was of a gentleman filled with integrity and humility. He seemed at a loss what to do next with his life.
The Inspired Work Program uses a science-based model that defines an ideal relationship towards work. That includes the right role, platform, purpose, behaviors, and support systems. The participants access their own truth. The program organizes that truth. There is a magic moment when I can see it all coming together. Mel, was at the turning point.
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?”
“Is there one other person in the world that could make that statement?”
You could hear a pin drop. It was a turning point. Before the program was over, Mel had made a decision to leadership organization with a difference. Instead of focusing all energy on the high potentials and executive leaders, Mel would bring the code of conduct he helped develop that turns anyone into a solid and reliable leader. Within the week, we were working on his business plan. Research provide one insight after another. We discovered that McKinsey, Forbes and The Corporate Executive Board all recognize the US Marines as the single most effective leadership organization in the world.
Mel once said to me, “We don’t have employee engagement issues with the Marines.” As I prepared my new book The Workplace Engagement Solution for market, the Marines became one of those role model organizations where everyone is responsible, accountable and receives the investment of leadership development. They have to, one break in the chain and people can literally die. Leaders are made in the US Marines by following a set of values and behaviors, a code-of-conduct. A few examples include honesty, integrity, care, humility and more. By bringing this code into organizations, everyone improves. A lapse in performance becomes an opportunity to trace back to the value that was missed and sacrificed.
His work creates solid citizens. Developing morals, values, ethics, and reliable behavior is a dream for many employers, especially ones with large numbers of people interfacing with the public, or mid-managers that have been left out of executive development. Following a code-of-conduct doesn’t turn people into machines, it turns them into better human beings. Perhaps the greatest example of all is in Mel Spiese. Whenever I am with him, I see everything he teaches embodied in how he lives as a husband, father, business owner, and friend.
As a result of the explosive growth and access to information coupled to the accelerating change throughout the world of work, most people outgrow their work more quickly and organizations also change and move on. Here is what I know about the topic of work. Everyone has unique career dna and purpose. Until we define that purpose, we lose the vital opportunity of establishing meaning in our lives, at least professionally. When we do, everything falls into place. Experience from our past, previously dismissed, become vitally important. Skills we overlooked, come back with new energy. We become willing to learn any and all skills that will bring success to our mission, vision, and purpose.
A couple of years ago, we produced a video of Mel for his new business Leaders Can Be Made. I am proud to introduce him to our readers:
The moral of the story?
Everyone of us has that unique and meaningful place. Find it.
All of us can change. Change and success are learnable.
If you have any questions about Mel or about us, please feel free to reach out.
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