4 Marine Corps Combat Leadership Lessons Every Man Should Learn

4 Marine Corps Combat Leadership Lessons Every Man Should Learn
marines3 Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Jeff Clement. I did two deployments to Afghanistan as a US Marine Corps logistics officer, and led hundreds of Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen (and dogs) on dangerous resupply convoys, facing insurgent IEDs and ambushes. This isn’t something that anybody knows how to do instinctively. Leadership, whether in the most intense combat situations or everyday business here in the States, is a learned skill. In fact, I titled my book The Lieutenant Don’t Know, making light of everything that I had to be educated about. I was fortunate to have some fantastic teachers and mentors who taught me how to lead. I took some time and distilled everything I learned into four key points that don’t just apply to Marines, but to everyone. There’s a common thread that runs through them — it’s about people, gentlemen.

Lesson #1 — The time to prepare was yesterday: if you stop to ask how fast to run in a firefight, you’re not running fast enough.

Photo 1 - MEDEVAC helicopters Imagine a 30,000-pound armored gun truck getting air as it jumps off a four-foot ledge, screaming toward a firefight at 50 mph, the Marines inside laser-focused on the task at hand. The time to prepare was yesterday. Today, it’s too late. It doesn’t matter what your job is; to be successful you have to prepare your body, your mind, and your team. Run through possible scenarios in your mind, think of everything that might happen, and make a plan. When a leader half-steps and hesitates to make a decision, it puts everyone in danger. A plan that is just “mostly right,” but implemented immediately, will be better than a perfect plan put into place three days too late. But this stuff doesn’t work if you just think about it — going about it on your own. Even worse than a leader hesitating is when the team does not act as one — if a platoon simultaneously attacks in two different directions, the platoon will end up being split down the middle, and each half will be defeated. When confronting a problem, analyze it, make a decision or come to a consensus, and act as one. Ideally, the team will have practiced or rehearsed ahead of time; if not, communicate calmly and clearly with your guys. Act with confidence, conviction, and violence of action.

Lesson #2 — Be a part of something bigger than yourself: self-sacrifice for the greater good is the hallmark of a leader.

Photo 2 - Mission Preparation One of the hardest things to do as a leader is to tell one of your Marines to do something that has to be done, but that you know puts that individual in a tremendous amount of danger. The Marines never fail though, and without hesitation they will put themselves in extreme danger in order to carry another Marine to a MEDEVAC helicopter or clear a path out of an ambush. The best part about being in the Marines is the Marine to your right and to your left. It might have been a different person on different missions and from one day to the next, but every Marine is my brother or sister. I know they would do anything for me, but it’s a two-way street. They would do it for me because they know I would do anything for them. Back here Stateside, you aren’t asked to risk your life very often. Sometimes, giving your time for a friend or colleague is all that’s asked. Other times, it means rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work with your team. As a leader, you are a servant first. You exist for the team, to take care of them, to ensure they have the tools to succeed. A leader who gets a reputation for being selfish or self-centered will rarely earn the loyalty or respect of his teammates. But if you take a step back, acknowledge “it’s not about me, it’s about the team,” great things are possible.

Lesson #3 — If you don’t know, ask.

SSgt Joseph Caravalho, the platoon sergeant, and Lt Jeff Clement, the platoon commander, at a desert security position in the Helmand Province, 2010. There’s nothing manly about pretending to know something that you have no clue about. It will surely come back to bite you, or worse, hurt your whole team. “The Lieutenant don’t know” is something that Marines say to make fun of Lieutenants, the most junior of the officer ranks, for our lack of knowledge. Dudes always seem to think it’s a huge sign of weakness to ask a question. On the contrary, I’ve found that people will respect your self-awareness and desire to learn. Changing a tire on an armored truck is a little more complicated than on your Toyota Corolla, and a M2 .50 cal machine gun is a little (actually a lot) more finicky than an old shotgun. I found out pretty quickly that my most junior Marines knew the inner workings of this gear better than I did. As a platoon commander, I tried to spend time with my most junior Marines, asking them what they did and how they did it. Not only did I learn from them, we built a bond of trust that would pay off later. No matter what your job is, there’s something you don’t know. Spend some time with the guys down in the warehouse, or the lumber yard, or the mailroom, or whatever. Those little bits of information might prove crucial later on. Everyone needs a mentor. My platoon sergeant was the most important mentor I had, and he taught me how to lead. You never know where you’ll find a mentor — it could be a superior, a peer, or even a subordinate. Listening and asking questions are not signs of weakness.

Lesson #4 — It’s about building trust and respect.

Leadership definitely isn’t about being everybody’s friend. To me, leadership cannot be summed up into pithy statements or bullet points. At the same time, leadership is straightforward. It’s about trust and respect, which are very complex when you think about it. There’s nothing that you can specifically do to ensure that your people trust and respect you. It’s the sum of your actions over time that define who you are as a leader, and determine if your guys trust you or not. Asking questions, giving yourself for your team, doing your homework and putting in the hard work, making detailed plans and communicating them to your team, and so on, are all part of it.

Jeff Clement is a US Marine Corps veteran of the War in Afghanistan and the author of The Lieutenant Don’t Know, available now at Amazon.com and http://clementjd.com. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife Alison and is an MBA student at the Smith School of Business.

My Next Phase… With a Little History!

My Next Phase… With a Little History!

Just finished the 24 Day Challenge with Advocare and am starting day 25 and forward.  You may be able to relate to my life and my struggle for health, identity and weight loss.

When I was an infant, my Mom recently told me, when I would cry she would instantly find a bottle or some food to put in my mouth; part of that I’m sure was her not knowing what to do with a ‘whiner’ like me, but part of it also had to be the fact that I would always be prone to ‘feel better’ when my senses were satisfied.  You see, I’m a ‘touchy feely’ kind of guy who feels emotions and moods very strongly.  Whether I was born that way or became that way by my first taste of “sweet” I’ll never know.  But since then I’ve been prone to the emotional side of eating.

When I was 6 years old my parents told me they were not in love anymore and would be getting a divorce.  I was way too young to realize “self” at that level but I do remember from that day forward being insecure and afraid and unsure about a whole lot of things….and ALWAYS feeling better after I ate! (I will not be one of those people who write a book about how bad their childhood was and blame the parents, they simply didn’t know any better)

When I was about 9 or 10 I was in the bathroom one day and I turned around to the full length mirror and saw “for the first time” that I was knock-kneed, the first indication that I would be set apart and have something weird about me.  I was consumed with the thought.  No shorts for me, EVER.  When it was hot in the summers I would vie for long pants, jeans, wool pants, whatever was available.  No one would ever see my legs (years later I would find out that my legs were pretty darn attractive to my wife; muscular even!)

As an adolescent, the only memory of the annual “School Clothes” shopping trip was passing the aisles at Sears where the cool kids would buy their jeans and flannel shirts and being taken straight to the “HUSKY” section.  It was called “The HUSKY Department”.  I suppose Sears was looking for the right word for the future ‘Big and Tall’ shop but as a 12 or 13 year old seeing HUSKY meant “you were fat!”.  Husky at that age is not a very cool dog but a LABEL in life that would be carried around and be implanted in my head and in the mirror.

My brother was on the wrestling team in Junior High and HS and would put on the plastic trash bags and run to get the weight off before the weigh ins; I followed suit.  At the same time my Mom was buying Diet Rite cola as the household drink of choice and/or Sun Tea sweetened with Saccharin. She also showed me how to made egg drop soup and diet…. I once even found the big box of “AIDS” (not the disease but the diet chocolate chews) in her drawer and got hooked on them eating handfuls at a time.  I’m sure that just taught me to get used to going to the bathroom several times a day!

And then there was the mirror… as a teenager and in college when I looked in the mirror I saw FAT and LOVE HANDLES and big legs and small chest, etc…etc.  I did not see God’s creation the way God exactly formed me.  Now when I look back at photos I see a skinny good looking guy that all the girls in HS should have been running to…hahahaha!

My senior year of High School I came to the conclusion that SUGAR was horrible for you in its refined state (read a very convicting book called ‘Sugar Blues’) and I cut sugar out of my diet for a whole year and got lean and trim and still say myself as FAT!

I worked hard in College to keep my weight down.  I ran, I swam, I worked out.  I don’t remember being very hungry most of the time.  Probably because I was going through the “what in the world will become of me” stage of life.  BUT, a couple big events triggered issues again (although now they are going to sound weird):

1.  When I graduated from college my wonderful stepmother took me out to an incredible “all you can eat Seafood Restaurant” that used to be on the North side of Indianapolis.  We sat and talked for hours (and I ATE for hours).  I remember thinking to myself “WHY do I suddenly have the ability to consume so much delicious food, why am I not getting full?”.  And I didn’t get full anymore… from then on I ate what I wanted and worked out and played the balancing game between amount in and amount burned off.

2. One of my very good friends took me aside right out of college and challenged me on my weight describing me as very overweight; remember I was about 190 pounds and 6 feet tall and look at myself in those photos and think “you looked good”: but it was the 80′s and people were proud of thin and in shape and Health Clubs were seriously the rage.  That did a couple things to me:  I bought a Triathlon Bike and went on a serious binge of working out and quitting the sugar again.  I was fit and trim and yet still looked FAT!

When I got married I weighed a whopping 167 pounds, I must have been really thin but only noticed the ‘love handles’ on my sides and the weird sticks that I walked on!  Fortunately I found an incredible woman who loved me for who I was inside and outside and NEVER, I mean NEVER made a big deal out of self-image or self doubt.  She taught me two very important things at the beginning of our marriage:

1. One plate is usually enough     2. You can buy anything you WANT at the Grocery store, but “what do you need?”

OK, enough of all that.  Now I’m 54 and after losing and gaining about 1000 pounds and settling out on the whole self image thing and thousands of hours overeating and over-working out, I finally found something out a month ago that I never knew…

FAT thinkers believe this:  I must eat at least 3 times a day or I might miss out, get way too hungry, starve, feel deprived, feel emotional and angry and frustrated.  If I snack in between or eat between meals I WILL gain weight and continue to get more and more fat.  It cost too much to eat well and be healthy!

THIN thinkers believe this:  Like all animals I am a grazer, I can eat small amounts all day long and stay satisfied throughout the day.  The food I do eat will generate energy in my body and I’ll probably end up burning it all off anyway. Food is always around me and I can choose what is good and right and healthy and satisfying.  I’d rather spend $20 on a good meal than feel gross with all the $5 meals that would make me temporarily satisfied.

I have LONG way to go… my goal (if I had to weigh myself) is to get back to around 200 pounds and feel wonderful about that.  I don’t want to be on TV, be the Biggest Loser or inspire anyone with a Diet Plan.  I want to feel good about how I feel about me, to enjoy putting on a regular size towel after taking a shower.  That’s all.  I want to be freed up to be LESS about me and more about others and serving and loving mankind.

And so the story goes on…..I found what works for me

So, WHY the 24 Day Challenge?

So, WHY the 24 Day Challenge?
So, WHY the 24 Day Challenge?

About 3 weeks ago my daughter Sarah called me and said “Dad for my birthday I would just like some Advocare products”, to which I replied “What is Advocare?”.  The VERY NEXT DAY when I went into the Cafeteria at work one of the Ultrasound Techs had a booth set up giving away free samples of ADVOCARE.  I immediately went up and had a great chat with Erica with with her sponsor Larry Prater and shared with them that I was so tired of the roller coaster ride of weight loss and also so tired of multilevel programs that promise performance and results, etc, etc.  BUT the next day I signed up to become a Distributor ($79) and ordered my “24 Day Challenge Kit” thinking ‘I’ll give this one more shot’… a few days later my Challenge came in the mail, I laid it all out on the counter and took the plan pages and put them in a notebook and said ‘I’m starting tomorrow’…. that was 17 days ago.

Since then I get almost daily calls from either Erica or Larry asking how I’m doing, how I’m feeling and building an incredible trusting friendship.  Not once has Larry asked me to “sell anything” (something that used to turn me way off about the prideful spirit of other companies).  He HAS asked me would I like to buy my product at 40% off.  Not once has he asked me to come to a “Mixer” or party where people can try product and learn about the business side.  So I’ve done all the research and I invited myself to Larry’s house last Thursday night for a mixer.  I met a very humble, very successful and very encouraging group of young (younger than me) people who are in the biz for others, care deeply about helping people with their health and time, they love the product and I never sensed I was a stranger in their midst.  Larry has become a very good friend (although I know somewhere deep inside he wants me to do this business); our conversations are filled with good thoughts and solutions and family talk.

So, in 17 days I’m down 11 pounds and I’ll measure myself completely at the end of 24 days.  But I know for sure I can wear my XL shirts and not just my XXL shirts and my belt is on the next loop and my extended waist pants don’t need to extend so much anymore.  I’m enjoying the process big time.

What is the process you ask?  First 10 days is a mild cleanse and energy boost to get your body loosened up and rid of lots of years of toxins, the next 14 days are jam packed vitamin packs you take throughout the day to rebuild and get your body burning what you eat all day long through your normal living!

I have been a “Fat Person” in my mind: that means that I have believed that if I ate between meals and ate all day (like a thin person does) that I would just get more fat.  It also means that I eat big meals so I won’t “starve (ha-ha)”.  My body has led my mind and hasn’t wanted to let loose.  A “Thin Person” is a GRAZER…someone who eats a normal size meal or a replacement shake for breakfast and then grazes mid-morning on nuts, healthy snacks, fruits, grass (just kidding) and then has a nice normal lunch, then grazes mid afternoon then a nice healthy dinner and then maybe a little graze in the evening.  They also drink water all day long instead of ‘just’ when they are thirsty.  Animals don’t generally just wait til they are thirsty it seems, their bodies are programmed to drink water for health and survival and energy.  I wasn’t listening to my body and so spent my days punishing it by wrong thinking.

I know I’m only at the beginning of a long journey; a journey that will take me beyond losing 50-75 pounds and onto living the controlled life my mind and spirit have been longing for.  So WHY the 24 Day Challenge?  Because I needed to begin a transformation for life.  How are you doing?

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