This is a guest post written for PCSgrades by Shermaine Perry-Knights, who grew up as a military kid. As an adult, she now shares her experiences through her books and written materials.
You ask, “how did PCSing shape who I am today?” Being a military brat has taught me so much. It is a lifestyle of focus, discipline, and dynamic change. PCSing has its drawbacks; however, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Above all, PCS can be viewed as a celebration of culture and diversity, and a tough lesson that change is different, but not bad. It is a new beginning, adventure, and opportunity for personal and professional growth. PCSing is what I need to KNOW and DO to develop myself, others, and to positively impact organizations.
The very whispers of PCSing brings memories of three values that I hold highly: Communication, appreciation of different cultures, and a love of traveling.
PCSing teaches military kids communication
Speaking clearly and connecting with others was at the heart of my experience PCSing. It remains at the heart of my work in organizational development. Effectively communicating requires a high level of knowledge of communication principles and techniques to articulate the appropriate message for a particular audience. It requires active listening, exchange of dialogue, and the ability to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly, concisely, and compellingly.
My earliest memories of PCSing were the brief explanation of a new adventure. Mostly, how far and when the new adventure begins. The who, what, and why are often missing from the discussion between the servicemember and military kids. I have learned to thrive in the ‘how’ and ‘when’. Even today as I manage projects, I focus on the ‘how’ and ‘when’. Living in Turkey, as an American, taught me work ethic, patience in traffic, the importance of nonverbal cues, making friends, and blending in among the people. PCSing is the frame for every new adventure. Sometimes the frame is what makes the picture perfect. It is up to us to paint the picture with our experiences. Every PCS is a learning experience where I can talk to anyone about anything.
Military kids experience cultural diversity
Second, PCSing gave me a deep appreciation for different cultures, diversity, inclusivity and acceptance. PCSing is a two-way street requiring give-and-take. Like many military kids, I absorbed customs from every adventure and remain culturally inclusive today. I often say Ciao for both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. This is a custom that I adopted from time spent in Italy. The PCS to Naples, Italy was a life-changing experience. So much of the Italian customs, language, food, and daily lifestyle became a part of who I am today.
Every PCS shaped me emotionally and mentally. I have never met a stranger and easily connect with and relate to others. This deep appreciation for the newness of life encouraged me to try new things and embrace new people. The beauty of PCSing is being able to see the value in every station, experience, and corner of the world. There is something to learn and explore in every situation and environment.
PCSing gives military kids a love of travel
The third and most impactful value is that PCSing sparked a love for traveling. Moving a lot nurtured my adventurous spirit. I’m a lifelong learner and travel is my favorite path for discovery. I’m self-motivated with an insatiable curiosity for intelligent risk-taking. That is something I picked up along the way while PCSing.
This preparation is valuable in the workplace. Cultural awareness and the ability to foster an inclusive work environment are requirements in today’s global business climate. Travelling has become my pursuit of knowledge for personal and professional reasons. Being effective means showing respect for different perspectives, backgrounds, customs, abilities, and behavior norms, as well as ensuring all employees are respected and involved by leveraging their capabilities, insights, and ideas. I can adapt to any situation from facilitating difficult conversations, calmly offering assistance in case of emergency, or implementing organizational change.
PCSing gave me the ability to own my confidence and display high competence with decision-making. Nowhere is home, but PCSing is the path to unlocking new adventures and noteworthy experiences for military families. This is a lifetime of focus, discipline, and consistent change that make me who I am today.
Shermaine Perry-Knights is an award-winning facilitator, project manager, speaker, and author. As a Certified Professional in Talent Development, Shermaine is passionate about helping others develop emotional intelligence and leadership skills. Each of her published books supports the growth mindset (self-care, resilience, and career readiness). Shermaine is a proud military kid and a lifelong learner. She earned a bachelor’s of arts in political science from Spelman College and a master’s in public administration from Strayer University. She has traveled throughout Asia and the West Indies, and she lived and studied in Europe and the Middle East. Shermaine Perry-Knights has authored guided journals, youth & adult coloring books, and children’s books. Her newest book, “I Move A Lot and That’s Okay” is available here.