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An Honest Work - Dr Mike Colson

An Honest Work

A recent trip to Denmark taught me something important about contractors residing and working in combat theaters of operation. You live honest lives. The message came conversely as I watched one person after another in several small Danish coastal villages glide from one day into the next. There are many words used to describe your days, but glide probably is not one of them. And that is where the rubber meets the road in this observation. To engage willingly in a task that by its very nature is both predictable – i.e. DFAC food – and utilitarian demands from contractors a level of honesty almost unheard of anywhere else.

There is not a whole lot of gray in the stark reality of your working life. For example, an honest view of contractor work is there are hardships, which you acknowledge and accept. Relationships are mostly task focused based on an honest appreciation of skill sets, individual capabilities, and trust. Work schedules are fixed and wherein they aren’t sufficient, an honest assessment gets the midnight oil lamp lit and extra hours added into the mix. Acceptance of risks allows for the winnowing out of extraneous non-essential factors, whether they are mission related, personal, or other. Regardless of the relationship with neighboring military personnel, your mindset often replicates the black and white nature of theirs. Again, not so much because you want to but because your honest assessment says it is necessary.

Some of this harsh honesty is an expected part of you work, especially given various remuneration packages. And work for profit is a powerful motivator. That too is an aspect of being honest. Quid pro quo is not a crime. Rather, it is the bedrock of upright and faithful dealing. Honest is as honest does.

I would be remiss (and dishonest) with regard to my own mission if I did not suggest that one additional honest assessment requires our attention…at least from time to time. That being asking the question: Am I different now than when I began?

Why this assessment? Most all of us have a version of the “Danish coastal village” that we hope to return to one day. Using honesty as the best policy, it makes sense to accept one other aspect of combat zones work - the inevitability that it will all wind down one day. And there we’ll be…the most honest person in the room.