462. Marine Finds Deep Strength in Adversity
Justin survived a gunshot wound to the head while serving as a Marine in Iraq. For his entire life he had been a focused and highly motivated individual. Returning home, he developed an even deeper understanding of adversity. How he is dealing with these new challenges is impacting thousands of his fellow veterans and the companies that want to help them.
Justin Constantine is a former Marine and attorney and is now an inspirational speaker and leadership consultant. He recently completed his first book, “My Battlefield, Your Office: Leadership Lessons From the Front Lines.” His writing on military and leadership issues has been featured in such outlets as CNN, Time, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, Forbes magazine, and USA Today. Justin is a Presidential Leadership Scholar and a Fellow with the Truman National Security Project. He is also an expert in leadership, overcoming adversity, and Veteran employment.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I did pretty well in school. I was the class president and had an active social life. I was involved in a lot of sports and activities. Starting in seventh grade—I guess I had an entrepreneurial bug—I had a newspaper route. My mom encouraged me to do that to earn money to help pay for college. Then I had a lawn mowing business in the summer and a snow shoveling business in the winter. I started working at a restaurant while I was still in high school, busing tables to earn money for college.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
After Justin was injured in Iraq, he went back to work as a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice on Capitol Hill, and also with the FBI on a counter-terrorism team. He became increasingly aware of the challenges many of his fellow veterans face as they transition back into civilian life. “Even though I enjoyed my jobs as a lawyer, I didn’t have nearly the same level of fulfillment as I do now. During the last three years as an entrepreneur and business owner, I’ve been on a much different trajectory, where I can see that I am helping people on a daily basis, whether it’s through inspirational speaking, or helping veterans with employment, or through a non-profit I started.”
The Most Powerful Lesson Learned?
“Something I learned from the U.S. Marine Corps is that taking care of your people has to be your number one priority. While I use that as a leadership principle, it really applies on a very personal level as well. Whether you are in high school thinking about your family, or you are a manager at work, wherever you are in life, life is about relationships. It’s about making a difference in your sphere of influence. I think the best way to do that is to take care of those around you. If we would all do that, I think the world would be a better place.”
Steps to Success from Justin Constantine
1. Recognize that you are stronger than you think. Often you will learn this as you face adversity, but you needn’t wait for that.
2. Dig deep within yourself to find resources you may not even know you have.
3. Carve out space in your day to do things that are important to you.
4. Find ways to have a positive impact on your sphere of influence.
5. Do something every day that will make you feel good about that particular day.
On His Bookshelf
Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport
12 Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup
Top Tools on His Browser
calm.com: a simple mindfulness meditation app
Connecting With Justin Constantine
Download 101 Leadership Quotes from Justin Constantine’s “My Battlefield: Your Office.”
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