Whenever anyone thanks me for my service I am always a little sheepish in responding. Not that I don’t appreciate the recognition, but the truth is I owe more to my service than my country owes me. During my years of service in the United States Marine Corps, I completed high school and started college, and I was gifted with several exceptional lessons.
- Show up on time and never be late: This lesson has stuck with me, albeit there have been times when flexibility with regards to timing was needed. When I moved to Miami I kept hearing about Miami time. I learned that 6:30 means 6:30ish, so don’t be surprised by the 7:15 arrivals.
- Always be in uniform: Being out of uniform was never tolerated, so I learned to prepare my civilian wardrobe in much the same way I did my uniforms. Looking put together takes a little effort, but it always pays off.
- Take 100% responsibility for your actions: I learned early in my tour of duty that one thing the Marines dislike more than failure, is making excuses for that failure. Owning the outcomes of your efforts is essential. If you spend your time looking for a place to affix blame you will probably find a convenient scapegoat, but you will miss the importance of self-reflection and self-reliance.
- You will be judged on your accomplishments: The Marines set the bar high, but I witnessed a diverse group of individuals that excelled and were celebrated. When the outcomes you are looking for require sound judgement, strong leadership, and initiative, there is little room for nepotism or favoritism. During my tour I was admonished for falling short, but I was also celebrated for success. I’d like to remember only the celebrations but the truth is, life sometimes teaches us more when we fail.
- Leadership Matters: I thought leadership in the Marine Corps was all about example, because I constantly heard the phrase, “Leadership by example.” The biggest leadership lesson I learned was not about example, although that is important. I learned leadership is about connection and transformation. The best platoon commanders I had connected with their troops and transformed them. The high levels of trust and engagement they created, allowed those commanders to a have deep impact on their plattons and the individual Marines in the unit.
It probably comes as no surprise that in Part 1 of our book: Meaning-Centered Leadership: Skills and Strategies for Employee Well-Being and Organizational Success I share a story about an enlightened platoon commander who changed my life and transformed the trajectory of my future. If you haven’t picked up a copy, be sure to look for our 35% off Black Friday offer coming soon. If you want to make sure you don’t miss it, contact us to receive it in your inbox.