Thanks Steve Jobs… I’m getting out of the Navy.


The passing of Steve Jobs has brought about a popular reverence of the man.  People say he was the modern day Edison, revolutionizing our lives through technology.  He was indeed brilliantly creative, and combined his business savvy with a rare understanding of what makes people enjoy using technology.  But did anyone think of him in this light before he died?  Probably not, outside the tech industry.

Anyways, through all the hype about his life that has arisen since his death, his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford stands out.  In it he talks about his life, and about facing death.  It is a rare event in which a businessman speaks of philosophy, and the speech is powerful in a posthumous light.  Here’s the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc

Its a good speech, but what I took away from it started around 9:10, where he talks about facing death.  Here are the quotes that I thought best reflected my thoughts about life in the Navy:

  • “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
  • “Don’t be trapped by dogma which is living with results of other people’s thinking.”
  • “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”
  • “…and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition…”

Nearly every career advice we get offers ways and avenues to replicate what the previous generation of Naval officers did.  When we know something doesn’t work, we forgo innovation and attempt to mend what was there, perpetuating a broken system.  Dissenters of the way we do business are ostracized for being lazy.

This mantra isn’t for everyone.  The majority (I think) of people are more than content to show up to a job with excellent job security where they’re told what to do.  That life is not for me.  I cannot commit my life contributing to an organization unwilling or unable to change for the better.  So the question is, “Will I take the chance on myself?”  Thanks Steve Jobs.  I’m getting out of the Navy.

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  1. #1 by andrew pyle on 12October2011 - 7:15 pm

    And I wish you the very best of luck making the transition

  2. #2 by CANYOUBLOWMEWHERETHEPAMPERSIS on 30October2011 - 5:33 am

    Voltaire. You’ve made a wise choice. Just be sure to get your paperwork in ASAP. The only people who fuck you harder than VP are the detailers. Wait. No, they’re VP too. They know that, right? Of course they do, which is another reason I hate VP. The VP community is one tight-knit family. At least that’s what we like to say. So, what kind of fucked up dysfunctional family is it that breeds the mentality of fucking your buddy? VP isn’t called the “shoes” of Naval aviation for no reason. VP will NEVER stop being shitty. The number of douchebags, egomaniacs, and adherents to the status quo will ALWAYS outnumber the few crusaders who try to make a difference. Despite what your leadership is telling you, there is life outside of VP Navy. There are jobs where you actually get PAID with more than peanuts and daily kicks in the balls for your skill set. Better yet, you may even land one that doesn’t completely suck the morale and capacity to enjoy flying out of you.

  3. #3 by anymouse1 on 4December2011 - 9:52 pm

    My only question is, who will continue your legacy of this amazing forum to voice our discenting opinions?

  4. #4 by NotSteveJobs on 12December2011 - 11:12 am

    Good luck…except one thing. You’re not Steve Jobs. You can’t take the words of one of America’s greatest industrialists and innovators and think they apply to you. Even at Apple there was only one Steve Jobs. Then there’s a bunch of guys Steve Jobs trusted to get big things done who got their jobs by getting smaller things done. Then there’s the guys who were doing the little things who weren’t invited to the meetings yet but who knew they would be if they proved they can hack it. Then there’s clowns who weren’t trusted and never would be because they couldn’t be counted on, and on top of that they spent most of their time bitching that they knew how to run the company better than idiots like Steve Jobs. That’s you.

    I’ve seen a lot of guys stay in or get out of the Navy. You know what the ones who did nothing but complain about how their boss was an idiot and they’re better than their job when they were in the Navy are doing now? The same thing for Widget, Inc. or an airline. Know what the guys who made the most of their time in the Navy and worked hard at making their squadrons better are doing on the outside? Making the most of their time at what they’re doing now (and also a ton of cash in most cases).

    It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s wrong. Really, any idiot can do that. Pick up a book on your good friend Steve Jobs or really anyone worth writing a book about and find the part about how they were lauded for the great achievement of finding fault with a large organization. You might have trouble. No one wants to read about someone who can’t do anything except point out that things are jacked up because it’s really easy and inconsequential to do that, and no one wants to read about an annoying, self righteous pain in the ass anyway. Those people write books all the time, but they get written about a lot less, and there’s a good reason.

    VP sucks. We’re dealt a crap hand equipment, organization, and people-wise, and on top of that we turn around and make it 10 times harder on ourselves than it has to be. Not exactly front page news. Fix it, or even a little part of it, and you won’t have to make a blog to feel like your life’s being well spent. There’s a lot of good people spending their lives and careers trying to make it better. You had a chance to do that, and you passed. Good luck, you’ll need it.

    • #5 by and good luck to you, genius on 3January2012 - 11:32 pm

      “NotSteveJobs” – I find a lot of issues with your argument about “Voltaire” aside from the obvious one, which is your claim that no one wants to read someone who “points out that things are jacked up” while ignoring the fact that this site currently has over 7,000 hits. Apparently someone is reading.

      As far as the Jobs speech, wasn’t his point that we should all try and live our lives to those ideals? The speech would have been much worse if everyone was left to walk away thinking “well, I’m not Steve Jobs. There is only one Steve Jobs, so that stuff doesn’t apply to me. I’ll just accept my lot and get on with it.”

      But, the biggest problem with your comment is that you assume too much. Is is possible that “Voltaire” is a clown who isn’t trusted because he can’t be counted on? Sure. Likely even. But do you know that? Of course not. You are assuming that this guy or girl is a failure who just complains about issues on this blog while the rest of the community constructively tries to fix them. How do you know he or she isn’t trying? How do you know that the writer is not a top-performer? Really, an idiot can also recognize that someone can excel in a system while realizing that it has flaws. And, that person could easily get frustrated with an inability to fix those flaws. So, is there some cowardice in that the blog is anonymous? Sure. But you can only beat your head against a wall so many times using the normal “above-board” channels.

      In short, you are assuming a lot about this blogger. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.

    • #6 by William T Riker on 2March2012 - 5:53 am

      This was obviously done on Voltaire’s free time, and the guy clearly is/ has been in a position to see how significant decisions get made at the squadron/ community level.

      So, he’s probably writing this stuff to vent, after a day spent working to improve whatever he’s responsible for incrementally, an opportunity earned after success at whatever previous jobs given.

      Therefore, your assumption that he spends “most of his time bitching” is how it’s obvious that your view is petty and worthless. How about evaluating his criticisms, and maybe even talking about how to fix things?

      What’s truly depressing is that you actually sound like one who deep down agrees with the fundamental, shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot problems Voltaire points out, but has capitulated to an attitude of “that’s how it is, better just fall in line.”

      You should be embarrassed of yourself – you’d rather take on an astute critic, than the community he criticizes as it rots from within. No honor in that.

  5. #7 by Anonymous on 14February2012 - 4:53 am

    So did “the man” shut this website down?

    • #8 by Voltaire on 28February2012 - 3:23 am

      No… The man hasn’t shut this down, although I did feel a bit of “heat” a little while ago. I’ve been fairly busy, you know, working hard and trying to make the P-3 navy better so I took a bit of a break (yes, I actually work hard – surprising, I know). I’ll be getting back to it soon I hope, but I’ve been just waiting for the right inspiration. A couple of very well written comments I think did just the trick.

      • #9 by Ray Beasley on 6March2012 - 10:09 am

        Here’s some. The “miracle” that’s going to “fix” all our problems just arrived at VP-30.

  6. #10 by HateProsNest on 9March2012 - 2:59 am

    Voltaire…out of curiosity, where did those dickhead detailers send you for shore duty?

  7. #11 by Must be a hinge on 2May2012 - 7:55 pm

    Nice attempt to expose Voltaire. Standard VP Koolaid-chugging O-4 tactic. Choke yourself

    • #12 by Lobotomized O-4 on 14May2012 - 2:37 pm

      Too late on that. I’m a “hinge,” I post on here a lot, and I heard from a couple different places the same name on who Voltaire is. A lot of people have. Believe it or not, no one thinks it’s a big deal or really cares. It’s not like there’s anything revolutionary on here. This is all the same stuff we said as JOs, and all the same stuff your JOs will say about you if you stick around for a DH tour. So it goes…

      • #13 by Slipp McGurk on 12February2016 - 11:56 pm

        And yet you don’t fix anything. Good job.

  8. #14 by Rg9 on 12May2012 - 5:41 am

    Huh? I go away for a bit and no new posts?! I promise a lot more people are reading this than are commenting… seen articles printed in wardrooms, just sayin’. Keep the posts coming!

  9. #15 by cdrsalamander on 29November2012 - 2:30 am

    Awww, you quit. Sniff. Well played though, well played.

  10. #16 by NFO on 29November2012 - 2:33 pm

    Thanks Voltaire. This blog’s a fun read and I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say you’re probably a hard-working guy (judging by the tenor of the writing) who’s tired of the BS – we’ve all been there and I respect your right to vent without offering a solution in this forum – you can save those discussions for the wardroom. VP-ers are definitely the SWOs of Naval Aviation. However, with experience as a VP JO, #2 DH (i.e. auto non-select for CO), OPNAV guy (no other choice), and 2X’s boat guy (TAO – career path decision; HOD – no other choice), the problems you outline are systemic to Navy culture in general, not just VP. These problems have developed over decades, many people have bruises on their foreheads from trying to fix them, and it may not be worth your health to obsess over them. VP and the people that populate it are merely responding to external pressures (Navy budget contraction, CVN/Tac-Air community influence, marginalization of the ASW mission, etc.), the inevitable results of decades of failure to manage the community (HONA, red-stripe, 2.5 pilots per crew), and an added helping of human frailty, ego, and (in)competence.

    If you can’t stand VP, my advice is to move laterally; get to NPS or comparable grad-school on the Navy’s dime, build your own resume in another specialty, be successful in some other field – go have a good life. As someone else said, life is what’s lived while we’re busy trying to get someplace else. There’s something to be said for a solid 20-year career in which you controlled your destiny, contributed to the security of your family and neighbors, put some money away in your IRA, and came out stronger for your experience…and the corporate cultures are not always greener at Google, Apple, American Airlines, Investment Firm “X”, etc.. Just ask anyone who works there.

  11. #17 by Slipp McGurk on 13February2016 - 12:02 am

    Good luck out in the real world, Voltaire. Wherever you go, keep fighting the good fight against mediocrity.

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