While the parallels between special operations and business closely mirror each other in some regards, there are also glaring differences. The most significant difference I’ve found in the year plus that I’ve been out of the military is what is considered acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace.
In a SEAL Team room, for instance, there are (legal) mementos collected from high-level missions, pictures from past training trips, and photos to memorialize fallen teammates. On the other hand, a corporate culture is not likely to hang the suit and tie of the CEO whose company you just acquired, nor will there be pictures memorializing past employees who worked at the company for six months.
Of the social norms that differ between the two professions, nothing is more apparent than the definition of what “acceptable” means. What is normal in the SEAL Teams, for instance, is typically considered abnormal elsewhere (go figure). Here’s a quick rundown of 10 sayings I did not hear in the Teams and the reasons why:
1. “I can’t do that.”