I recently had the opportunity to listen to a Marine Corp General present at an event. It was amazing! I asked the general how they turn adolescences into strong men and women. He said 4 things that struck me deeply. Particularly since I am the father of 16 year old and 9 year old boys. He described the 13 week bootcamp that they all have to go through to ‘qualify’ to become a Marine. The Marine Corp process is one that every one of us can use to be who we want to be.
- “We want their hearts… “ When he said it, it felt like he had reached right into mine!! He said that all their other habits, tendencies, histories, experiences, intelligences etc. were not as important as capturing their hearts… I felt this to be their spirits. They want to engage it, ignite it and bring out the best of each kid.
How engaged are you? Do you even know what it’s like to commit your complete heart and soul to something?
- “We give them a goal to achieve that these kids hold as one of the greatest accomplishments to achieve in their lives.” In other words, they are not Marines until they complete their bootcamp training. Upon graduation…then they are Marines. It gives these young folks something bigger to strive for and to take pride in than many have ever fathomed before.
How big is what you are striving for?
- “We give them a fundamental reset of their realities.” He said that they learn the difference between a ‘request’ and an ‘order. Their world of entitlement is stripped away and they learn the reality of ‘earning’ respect, responsibility and team play.
How willing are you to strip yourself of things that are comfortable and habitual to you in order to make the changes in your life that you know you need?
- “We let them know that we care about them.” What was most interesting to me was this point. I pictured a tough, strict, grinding process, but what I did not envision was the deep level of caring for the lives of each of these new recruits. Clearly the Corp has a vested interest in making sure each person lives, but also that through all of the toughness there is an underlying knowledge on behalf of the recruits that someone cares about them as well. In other words, you can drive points 1-3 to the max as long as they know you love them.
Two points here: If you have a team, do they REALLY know if care about them? And secondly what shape is your self-concept and self-esteem in? Do you even like yourself?
I went away from the general’s talk realizing that the Marine Corp and other armed forces are really a special training ground for teenagers. They have perfected the art and science of human transformation and finding the best in nearly anybody and getting them to believe in themselves. The general even commented that the kids today, unlike the past where you either had to join or had no other option because of your background, are attracted to the Marines because they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Wanting to be part of a mission or cause… How big is your game?