I need to take a moment to brag about my longtime friend, and fellow military spouse, Bonnie.
When her husband left the Marines more than five years ago, he was welcomed into the civilian world with repeated "no's" at interviews and job prospects that could never pay the bills for their young family of six.
They struggled. They missed payments. They chose between things like food, clothes and electricity each month. The amount they owned quickly grew into a mountain and the amount they had, no matter how hard Bonnie and her husband worked, seemed to never be able to overcome.
Eventually, he was forced to leave his family and work overseas for two years for little more than he would have made at the fast food restaurant up the street that refused to hire him. Bonnie found work too. In an office, making minimal money, doing minimal stuff.
But instead of doing only what she had to, and getting out the door to go home and handle the couple's four children and manage the household with her husband overseas, Bonnie stayed longer hours. Worked harder.
She began looking at her job with the question, "What can I do to make this company better?"
When the branch in Texas began having problems Bonnie was asked to fly out there and see what the problem was.
She spent one week in that office. It was a business trip, away from the pressures of daily life at home, with her meals paid for and a hotel all to herself.
But she spent little time in the hotel and ate most of her meals at her desk, if she ate at all. She was too busy re-organizing the highly dysfunctional branch. She was interviewing employees and putting together a comprehensive report of what needed to change to bring the operation there up to speed. She did everything from forge new relationships with customers to clean the bathrooms which had never once been cleaned.
In that one week that Bonnie took control, that branch, which had consistently lost money over a two-year period, made $200,000.
When she returned home, she put together a power point presentation for her boss and his associates. She called a meeting. He expected a quick run-down with little detail. She gave him a comprehensive report that gave him, in detail, the needs, cost and outcome that was possible with that office.
And when she was done speaking, the CEO said, "So basically, what we need there, is you."
When Bonnie told me this story, I had goose bumps. My friend, who took this job she really didn't like out of desperation to feed her family, was able to look around, figure out what need she could fill for this company and work her tail off to fill it.
And when she did it, the company took notice.
They promoted her.
They moved her and her family across country. Unlike military moves, they paid for every meal, no questions asked. They paid for her gas, they paid a company to move her 6-person household with no weight limits. They gave them 30 days in a hotel and they can stay even after their new house is set up, you know, just so they have time to really unpack.
They gave her a raise.
They gave her a giant budget, and said, do your magic, make this office profitable.
This my friends is what the actual American dream looks like.
It was a tough road. It was a road filled with heartache and hungry stomachs and long hours. It was a road that left this couple separated for years as they desperately attempted to make enough money to pay down their bills and live together again.
Bonnie just didn't work at a job, she worked to better herself and do a better job. She worked not just to be noticed but because the job needed done, desperately.
And when it was all over, the company did take notice and gave my dear friend the promotion, the raise and the workload that she deserved. And from here, she can only keep moving upward.
This can be you. This can be all of us.
But first, you have to understand that your job, is more than just the place you go from 9 to 5. Put passion into your work, find a way to be the best at what you do, to fill a need for your company. Be the solution and management will take notice.
My heart is bursting with pride for my sweet friend Bonnie and her family. After years of struggle and long hours they are breaking through the muck, thriving, growing and finally receiving the kudos they deserve.
Bonnie told me as they stopped for a break at our house during the cross-country journey to her new office that it was weird for everything to be on her. As a military spouse, and the daughter of a retired Marine, she was used to every move, every job, every family decision coming from the military, and ultimately, the man of the house.
Now, it was all on Bonnie. It was all civilian-based and she was in control. On Monday, she would be heading in to work while her husband unpacked the dishes. The flip in roles was different and a little unnerving, she said.
But Bonnie, you got this. And for military spouses everywhere, so do you. Keep moving forward. It can only get better.