Christina Etchberger On How We Need To Redefine Success

Success is measured by quality and not quantity. Too often we see people check off tasks, or race through their day, and cannot even remember what they did or if they had an impact on those they interacted with that day. Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, […]

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Success is measured by quality and not quantity. Too often we see people check off tasks, or race through their day, and cannot even remember what they did or if they had an impact on those they interacted with that day.


Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Christina Etchberger.

Christina Etchberger is an Army spouse, mompreneur, and military community advocate. As the CEO and President of It’s a Military Life Corporation, she has developed what was once a lifestyle blog for military spouses and families, into a growing network for military spouses and veterans in the form of a nonprofit organization. Christina is currently residing in South Korea with her husband and two young children, on military assignment, but that has not stopped her from developing a team of professional volunteers around the world to build up the military community across the globe.


Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

Absolutely! These past five years have been the most transformational years of my life. I grew up in the Chicago area with family and friends all around me, and had a very successful career as an educator. After years of settling into my vocation as a teacher, I met my husband. Many people would consider marriage as a rite of passage that many people experience, but in this case I was marrying not only my best friend but the military. No one really knows what it means to welcome the military into your married life. At first, it was a challenge, because I had to uproot my entire life. Thankfully, I was doing all of this with the man I so happily married, but it took years for me to understand how to let go of what I thought my life should be to the blessings that were right in front of me all along.

The first deployment definitely was challenging, but the second deployment posed obstacles I never thought I would have to face. During this time in my life, I had two boys — two and a newborn. We were in the midst of a pandemic, and at that point I knew I had to be the change agent people needed me to be. This included my family, and the military community. I was the one that needed the support during the first deployment, with family visits and many a phone calls to my husband (if we had signal). This time I knew I was blessed to have a healthy family. Even if I was not able to have visitors, I knew I had the joy that my sons brought each and every day into my life, and those calls and Facetimes with family and friends to keep my spirits up.

I began the It’s a Military Life lifestyle blog to be a light to those that might need it during such troubling times. At the same time, I reached out to the local veteran center that I used to volunteer with in person. Knowing the veterans were now isolated and unable to connect with family and friends, and even volunteers, I started the Veteran Pen Pal Project. A simple letter and an act of kindness to support our heroes. This program grew, and allowed me to connect with Veteran Last Patrol to co-host Operation Holiday Salute. Together, with the support of GivingTuesdayMilitary, we surpassed our goal of 10,000 holiday cards to our heroes in hospice care, and distributed over 34,000 cards! This year, we joined forces again, and now are at 50,000 cards.

This outreach opportunity led me to become a more independent military spouse and leader of the military community. Most importantly, it made me even more proud of my husband and his military career, and shined a light on what my role is as a military community advocate.

The lifestyle blog is now just a portion of what are community shares, and we are now an official nonprofit organization led by a phenomenal group of professional volunteers who have signed up to be change agents in this ever-changing military world. It’s a Military Life Corporation is a military spouse and veteran network that advances resilency, promotes community involvement, and forges meaningful relationships.

I chose to embrace my life as a military spouse and community member, and now I have created a place for others to grow and thrive.

We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

Myth Success is measured by how much money you have and the status you gain for that kind of success.

Truth Monetary success is definitely something to celebrate, but there is more to success than money and status. I have learned that the media is so focused on those particular wins that other valuable successes are overpowered by all that noise. One of the most impactful experiences has been as an ambassador at GivingTuesdayMilitary. This community made me more aware of all the other wonderful ways we can make an impact on our own lives and others. The acts of giving back through outreach opportunities through your professional and personal network, truly are invaluable. Our organization did received a generous grant for Inspire Up Foundation, which is associated with GivingTuesdayMilitary, so talent, treasure, and time can all make a big difference when working together.

How has your definition of success changed?

Success is about sharing your gifts to better the world around you. One individual might be able to successfully run a business, while another person is a talented philanthropist. Each in their own right are successful. It can only be measured by whether or not the individual is utilizing their time, talents, and treasure when able, to better the lives of others.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?

We as a people need to be more willing to support one another’s dreams and ambitions, with a focus on the next generation. The pandemic has been a challenge on our families and schools, but we cannot forget even though we all are struggling, our children depend on us. A child depends on guidance at home, then in the schools, and his or her local community. Children learn from those who care and teach them how to thrive in society. As a former educator for our youth, I knew it was my responsibility to give my students the tools to be successful in and out of the classroom. This is true in the home, as well. Don’t let the pandemic negatively impact the leaders of tomorrow, but use this time to mold your children into strong and resilient citizens of the world.

How can we do this? Read to your children. Tell them stories of great leaders from all walks of life. Have them, safely, get out in the community and give back to those that need it the most. Involve your child with household responsibilities and discussions. If they see you as the leader that runs a home full of love and support, they will mirror this in their personal and professional life.

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

My perspective on life changed tremendously, especially as a military spouse. At this time in my life, during the start of the pandemic, my husband was deployed. My conscious choice to make a difference in the military community has created a rippling effect. I have not only seen positive changes within my network, but with my family as well. Although there are times where I feel isolated, I know I always have my IML community. I hope others know that we are here for them no matter where they are in the world.

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

Success is measured by quality and not quantity. Too often we see people check off tasks, or race through their day, and cannot even remember what they did or if they had an impact on those they interacted with that day.

Be in the now. This is true in both your professional and personal life. Schedule your time, and block out parts of your day for you and your family. There are so many ways to have better time and task management. My favorites are Google Workspace and Monday.com. Both are great resources to help people manage not only their time and tasks, but short term and long term projects individually and as a team. There are even ways to use these tools with your family and friends, too!

Fail forward. I never thought I would ever want to reflect on my failures, but there is a lot to learn from your mistakes or shortcomings. It’s a Military Life would not even exist, if I didn’t struggle in the beginning of my military spouse journey. If I never experienced the struggle, it would be harder for me to empathize with my community I am serving. Those failures or even challenges, turned into stories to share to guide fellow military spouses and families along their journey.

Network with purpose. I love to connect with others. Something I learned from an amazing community I joined early on — Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs (AMSE) — is that entrepreneurs need to choose their network wisely. Yes it is great to continue to grow your network, but how are these connections benefiting one another? This means, when networking on Linkedin, don’t just add someone to increase your audience. Connect with or Follow someone that aligns with your mission and shares commonalities professionally. Again, it is not about quantity, but quality.

No is a complete sentence. This sentence changed my life. As mentioned before, I love to make connections and bridges with all those I meet. In the beginning, I was saying yes to so many interested contributors to the website, and individuals or businesses that wanted to collaborate. I ended up saying yes to too many events or collaborations, and my original mission and vision of my organization began getting lost in all the yes’s. Live by your mission and vision, and don’t stray away from what matters. Those connections do matter, but it might not be what is right from you and your community at the moment or ever. That is okay! We can’t be everything for everyone. In the past, when this happens, I refer them to another organization or connection that is a better fit. Then, that connection can make a difference where it truly matters.

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?

I believe if we measured success in a more selfless way, we would actually benefit others and ourselves in a more impactful way. Just because you choose to do something from the heart, doesn’t mean it won’t benefit your business or organization in a major way. When you have passion for your work and community you serve, it will change how potential clients, investors, and community members view what your business or organization stand for overall. When I go to restaurant, if not only the food is quality but the customer service, I will always come back.

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

You. There are definitely so many other factors that create obstacles when redefining success, but it starts with the individual. If I didn’t decide to be the change agent, even while my husband was deployed during the pandemic, my life would be drastically different. There definitely would still be many positives and wonderful aspects of my professional and personal life, but my deliberate chose empowered me to not only make my life more meaningful but allowed me to make a difference in the lives of others.

Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?

For me personally, I wouldn’t be where I am today, without the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs (AMSE). This organization advocates for military spouse entrepreneurs all around the world, and their community has been a part of my entrepreneurial journey from day one. The members and leadership are walking the walk with me as fellow military spouses and business leaders. To be understood in that capacity, even without meeting these wonderful men and women in person, truly motivated me to not only be a dedicated entrepreneur but a resilent military spouse.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.

Three of my favorite people in entertainment are Tom Hanks, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Jennifer Garner. The late Chadwick Boseman had a heart of gold. All these celebrities promote positivity, family, and quality is definitely their middle names.

Mr. Beast is incredibly inspiring, as a philanthropist, entrepreneur, and YouTube entertainer. Every time I watch one of his videos, I am in awe with anything from his challenges to the way he gives back to the community. You really can judge a man by his friends, and they also seem like great people.

As a Chicago fan, Michael Jordan has always been a legend to me. The way he brought a city together, along with the entire team, truly made an impact on my life.

Lastly, First Lady Jill Biden has been such a positive impact to the military spouse and family community. I would love to talk with her about how to work together to make a difference to those who serve our country and hold down the fort. Our background in education and faith, would give us a lot to talk about!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

It’s a Military Life Corporation is very active on social media and would love to hear from you! To directly connect with us, send us an email to [email protected]

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin! Visit and subscribe to www.itsamilitarylife.org.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.

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