The person I am today is a result of many life events, but the most pivotal was my childhood and military career. Most psychologists admit that proper development in childhood plays a significant role in achieving a fulfilling and successful life. For example, according to Erickson’s theory, individuals need to gain hope, will, purpose, competence, and fidelity until the age of eighteen. This paper discusses the effects of these two factors and connects all this with the leadership I want to embody.
My Childhood and Adolescence
The most pivotal events from my early years were the fact that I was first born and that I belonged to a single-parent family. In addition, my mother had to work long hours to raise my two brothers and me. Despite all her attempts, our family lived in poverty, and we had to move homes often. First, we used to live in Manhattan, NY, then went to Francisco Albelo, Ana Torres, and finally decided to stay in Puerto Rico where we could get the support of our relatives. These factors forced me to grow up faster. When my mother was at work, I took care of my little brothers. I felt like the main supporter and defender of my family. This was probably essential for my career choice. In addition, the leading position in the family made me reliable, conscientious, cautious, and structured. I also tend to be controlling, which was seen during my entire military career. In particular, I always tried to become a leader in a group. Moreover, I used to set new and innovative goals. Like most of the firstborns, I also desired to be the best at all the things I do. In childhood, I wanted to be the best to please my mother, but now I try to win to make the lives of other people better.
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Now, for example, I want to become a law enforcement officer to protect the interests of my community. As for my military career, I was rapidly advanced to the rank E-2 after finishing basic training in boot camp in Orlando, Florida. In addition, I visited the Master Diesel Mechanic course at NTC Great Lakes, graduating top of my class. The first achievements did not satisfy my need to win. Thus, I decided to take orders to Naval Special Warfare, Special Bout Unit 12, and completed a five-year tour. During the next years, I occupied different leading positions and received various medals including the two awards known as Meritorious Service Medal, two awards of Combat Action Ribbon, as well as Navy and Marine Corps Medal for Heroism. It was a kind of surprise for me to receive Navy Unit Commendation, seven awards for the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Later, it was an honor to get three awards from the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Meritorious-Unit Commendation (three awards), Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (sixteen combat deployments), and different other service and campaign awards.
However, growing up in a single-parent family caused not only positive effects on shaping my personality but also negative ones. For example, I had mental hardships due to the necessity to adjust to my reality, which was sometimes impossible. I could not change the fact that I did not have a father like other children. My mother was always absent, so I did not receive enough support and care. On the one hand, this made me stronger and braver, which was useful for a future military career. On the other hand, I became quite closed and non-emotional. The thing is that I did not know how to interact with other people and take care of them.
The analysis of my psychosocial development based on Erikson’s theory reveals that I did not pass all the stages well. First, I did not develop enough trust during infancy. Unfortunately, my mother could not provide the necessary amount of care, reliability, and tenderness. Therefore, when I became older, I tried to compensate for this by military career. Reaching new goals and constant development allowed me to receive much affection from other people. I also learned to trust other people through interacting with various team members. For me, my colleagues were like family members, and I could feel care and reliability working with them.
However, between the ages of eighteen months and three years, I received too much control. My mother used to criticize and control me, which could be explained by my birth order and her age. She just did not have much experience of raising children and wanted me to do everything as fast as possible. Therefore, I grew up with a lack of self-esteem and some doubt in my abilities. To avoid the negative feelings, I studied very much and tried new experiences to prove to myself and others that I have enough abilities to succeed in today’s world. As a leader, I also tended to criticize and control too much. From another point of view, I can state that my previous experience taught me that my leadership style requires modifying. For that reason, now I try to encourage and support my team. I motivate my colleagues to be more initiative.
The next stage of psychological development was very successful for me as a person. As my mother used to be busy all the time, I had the opportunity to plan some activities with other children. This made me an initiative person that feels secure leading others and making decisions. The fact that I was the oldest child in the family also encouraged me to plan some activities. Besides, this forced me to keep the balance and not to be creative too much. Therefore, I learned how to realize self-control or have a conscience. This was particularly important for my military career because I constantly had to exercise these abilities there. Today, the power of conscience encourages me to start a career as a law enforcement officer, because I understand that my previous experience and current abilities would be useful for the community where I live. Besides, I need to have some purposes, and I gained this virtue in the following stage of psychosocial development.
When I started to visit school, I remember that our family moved from one place to another quite often. Therefore, I had some problems at school. For example, I could not make true friends, which was very important for me at that time. I felt the necessity to gain their approval of my specific competencies, but it was quite difficult to achieve due to the often changing place of living. In my adulthood, I started to repeat this practice; particularly, I changed my job positions many times. Numerous awards served approvals of my specific competencies by others. They also compensated for the lack of approvals in childhood and improved my self-esteem. As a leader, I always try to demonstrate appreciation to my team members if they deserve it.
The full independence and absence of pressure from my family allowed me to determine my identity. I understood that a military career is the one I want to have. Fortunately, I avoided identity crises and did not experiment with various lifestyles. Recently, I have completed my 30-year naval career as the Command Master Chief. My desire to start a career as a law enforcement officer agrees with the role I chose during adolescence. Numerous awards and high career achievements prove that my career decisions were right. I believe that birth order and growing up in a single-parent family were the most pivotal life events that influenced the decision-making process on this stage of psychosocial development.
As a matter of fact, not only career choice and childhood influenced the shaping of my personality. My relationships have affected me too. I have been married for thirteen years, and I have a 22-year-old stepson. These relationships have brought me some sort of commitment, safety, and care, which affects my leadership style. Before marriage, I tend to be more isolated and depressed. Today, I want to care about the community, making people feel safe. I cannot just stay at home and remember my successful naval career. This would make me feel depressed and useless. My desires completely agree with Erickson’s theory. Thus, the psychologist believes that people during middle adulthood (aged 40-65) want to give back to society by raising their children, being effective at work, and integrating into community activities and organizations. This is necessary for reaching the virtue of care. Now, I am a 49-year-old man that is full of energy, experience, and abilities. I feel the need to share my contributions with others.
Apart from having a happy marriage and starting to be involved in community activities, my personality was affected by my career choice. Earlier, I described some of its points but it is also necessary to add that a naval career helped me to fix some issues from childhood and transformed me into a mature personality. I learned to trust people and improved my self-esteem. I began to believe in my abilities and became more confident. I also get rid of the inferiority complex. My leaders served as role models for me. I received from them an image of a real man. This compensated me for the absence of my father. As a result, I managed to build lasting personal relationships. Moreover, I believe that choosing a military career was the best option for me. Otherwise, I would not be able to reach such impressive results in my personal development.
To sum up, my today’s personality was significantly influenced by two events from my childhood. First, I was the oldest son, and I had to take care of my two younger brothers. This made me reliable, controlling, structured, ambitious, and conscientious. Second, I could not allow myself to be weak, because I grew up in a single-parent family. My mother used to be at work all the time, so I became older very fast. I also gained leadership skills and became initiative. Military career also influenced in shaping of my personality. For example, it helped me deal with some psychosocial issues from childhood. A marriage made me loving and caring. All these experiences made me a good leader; particularly, I can encourage my team members to demonstrate high results without making them feel disappointed.