Season 3 Episode 119: Applying Stoicism to Your Military Transition with Ken Davenport

We are pleased to welcome Ken Davenport to the microphone on this episode of the Lessons Learned for Vets podcast. For more than a decade, Ken has provided mentorship to military veterans in their transition to the civilian world as a board member for the Travis Manion Foundation, instructor for Boots to Business at the Institute of Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University and FourBlock. As an entrepreneur, he is the founder and CEO of Mission Edge, a social impact organization in San Diego that provides operational and strategy support to nonprofits and small businesses. Ken is the author of The Stoic Transition, a Guide to How Veterans can Thrive in their Next Adventure, which is the focus of today’s session.

As a long-time entrepreneur, Ken was looking for new opportunities to serve people in meaningful ways. In 2010, he began volunteering at the armed services YMCA at Camp Pendleton. He soon found the purpose he was looking for through mentoring young marines. For over 10 years, Ken has been teaching the transition process from a civilian perspective. Ken believes civilians bring wisdom to the military transition and can help service members understand what employment is like in the private sector.

Ken challenges each transitioning service member to ask themselves what they want to do and the why behind it. While nothing can replace one’s service in the military, it’s important to find a position that brings satisfaction. Ask yourself: Who am I? What do I want? What kind of thing do I want to accomplish in this next story telling period of my life? You have choices in this next chapter. If you choose something that is not the right choice, that’s okay. You can choose again. Take the time to reflect and think about what makes you happy.

Your career will be made up of many transitions. The military transition is the first of many throughout the rest of your life. In The Stoic Transition, Ken lays out tools that will empower you to make thoughtful choices during all your future transitions. Stoicism refers to an ancient philosophy that is still relevant today. Practiced daily, this philosophy builds resilience and self-empowerment. At its core, the focus is primarily on positive emotions and how to frame the challenges and obstacles that a person encounters.

The 4 main stoic virtues are Wisdom, Courage, Temperance and Justice. The goal is to react to everything in life with one of the 4 virtues. Each virtue dovetails together to form a roadmap on how to address the world. Interwoven with these four virtues are 3 stoic disciplines. These disciplines of desire, action and ascent are the foundations to living as a stoic. In The Stoic Transition, Ken divides up the book by the 3 disciplines. The first question asked is what do you desire? From there, the book dives into discovering the why behind your desires, learning how to think about your transition as an individual and focusing on what you can control.

Over the years, Ken has noticed that many veterans are introverts. For these people, networking can be a challenge. Ken believes that networking is about making real connections, even friendships. His mindset is quality over quantity. Remember that you are more than your MOS and the military.

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