Tag Archives: mindset

USMC Leadership Traits

Tip of the Spear: Marines refresh ground combat, leadership skills during Combat Leadership Course

US Marine Corps Photo

“There are only two things we should fight for…one is the defense of our homes and the other is the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

General Smedley Butler, USMC

The U.S. Marine Corps Leadership Traits

The fourteen leadership traits can be remembered with the acronym JJ-DIDTIEBUCKLE:

Justice  Judgment
Dependability  Initiative  Decisiveness
Tact  Integrity Enthusiasm
Bearing Unselfishness Courage Knowledge Loyalty Endurance


  • Definition – Giving reward and punishment according to the merits of the case in question. The ability to administer a system of rewards and punishments impartially and consistently.
  • Significance – The quality of displaying fairness and impartiality is critical in order to gain the trust and respect of subordinates and maintains discipline and unit cohesion, particularly in the exercise of responsibility.
  • Example – Fair apportionment of tasks by a squad leader during field day.


  • Definition – The ability to weigh facts and possible courses of action in order to make sound decisions.
  • Significance – Sound judgment allows a leader to make appropriate decisions in the guidance and training of his/her Marines and the employment of his/her unit. A Marine who exercises good judgment weighs pros and cons accordingly when making appropriate decisions.
  • Example – A Marine properly apportions his/her liberty time in order to relax as well as to study.


  • Definition – The certainty of proper performance of duty.
  • Significance – The quality that permits a senior to assign a task to a junior with the understanding that it will be accomplished with minimum supervision.
  • Example – The squad leader ensures that his/her squad falls out in the proper uniform without having been told to by the platoon sergeant.


  • Definition – Taking action in the absence of orders.
  • Significance – Since an NCO often works without close supervision; emphasis is placed on being a self-starter. Initiative is a founding principle of Marine Corps Warfighting philosophy.
  • Example – In the unexplained absence of the platoon sergeant, an NCO takes charge of the platoon and carries out the training schedule.


  • Definition – Ability to make decisions promptly and to announce them in a clear, forceful manner.
  • Significance – The quality of character which guides a person to accumulate all available facts in a circumstance, weigh the facts, and choose and announce an alternative which seems best. It is often better that a decision be made promptly than a potentially better one be made at the expense of more time.
  • Example – A leader, who sees a potentially dangerous situation developing, immediately takes action to prevent injury from occurring.


  • Definition – The ability to deal with others in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid offense. More simply stated, tact is the ability to say and do the right thing at the right time.
  • Significance – The quality of consistently treating peers, seniors, and subordinates with respect and courtesy is a sign of maturity. Tact allows commands, guidance, and opinions to be expressed in a constructive and beneficial manner. This deference must be extended under all conditions regardless of true feelings.
  • Example – A Marine discreetly points out a mistake in drill to an NCO by waiting until after the unit has been dismissed and privately asking which of the two methods are correct.


  • Definition – Uprightness of character and soundness of moral principles. The quality of truthfulness and honesty.
  • Significance – A Marine’s word is his/her bond. Nothing less than complete honesty in all of your dealings with subordinates, peers, and superiors is acceptable.
  • Example – A Marine who uses the correct technique on the obstacle course, even when he/she cannot be seen by the evaluator.


  • Definition – The display of sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of duty.
  • Significance – Displaying interest in a task and optimism that can be successfully completed greatly enhances the likelihood that the task will be successfully completed.
  • Example – A Marine who leads a chant or offers to help carry a load that is giving someone great difficulty while on a hike despite being physically tired, he encourages his fellow Marines to persevere.


  • Definition – Creating a favorable impression in carriage, appearance, and personal conduct at all times.
  • Significance – The ability to look, talk, and act like a leader whether or not these manifestations indicate one’s true feelings.
  • Example – Wearing clean uniforms, boots, and collar devices. Avoiding profane and vulgar language. Keeping a trim, fit appearance.


  • Definition – Avoidance of providing for one’s own comfort and personal advancement at the expense of others.
  • Significance – The quality of looking out for the needs of your subordinates before your own is the essence of leadership. This quality is not to be confused with putting these matters ahead of the accomplishment of the mission.
  • Example – An NCO ensures all members of his unit have eaten before he does, or if water is scarce, he will share what he has and ensure that others do the same.


  • Definition – Courage is a mental quality that recognizes fear of danger or criticism, but enables a Marine to proceed in the face of danger with calmness and firmness.
  • Significance – Knowing and standing for what is right, even in the face of popular disfavor. The business of fighting and winning wars is a dangerous one; the importance of courage on the battlefield is obvious.
  • Example – Accepting criticism for making subordinates field day for an extra hour to get the job done correctly.


  • Definition – Understanding of a science or an art. The range of one’s information, including professional knowledge and understanding of your Marines.
  • Significance – The gaining and retention of current developments in military and naval science and world affairs is important for your growth and development.
  • Example – The Marine who not only knows how to maintain and operate his assigned weapon, but also knows how to use the other weapons and equipment in the unit.


  • Definition – The quality of faithfulness to country, Corps, unit, seniors, subordinates and peers.
  • Significance – The motto of the Marine Corps is Semper Fidelis, Always Faithful. You owe unswerving loyalty up and down the chain of command.
  • Example – A Marine displaying enthusiasm in carrying out an order of a senior, though he may privately disagree with it.


  • Definition – The mental and physical stamina measured by the ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship.
  • Significance – The quality of withstanding pain during a conditioning hike in order to improve stamina is crucial in the development of leadership. Leaders are responsible for leading their units in physical endeavors and for motivating them as well.
  • Example – A Marine keeping up on a 10-mile forced march even though he/she has blisters on both feet.

    Information contained on this website is for general information and educational purposes only. Please refer to our Disclaimer and Terms and Conditions before attempting any technique described herein.

Lead The Way

Photo by SGT Brian Kohl

Photo by SGT Brian Kohl

“Let the enemy come till he’s almost close enough to touch.
Then let him have it and jump out and finish him with your hatchet.”
Major Robert Rogers, 1759


Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster, and fight harder than any other Soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.

(Major Robert Rogers, 1759)

1. Don’t forget nothing.

2. Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute’s warning.

3. When you’re on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer. See the enemy first.

4. Tell the truth about what you see and what you do. There is an army depending on us for correct information. You can lie all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but don’t never lie to a Ranger or officer.

5. Don’t never take a chance you don’t have to.

6. When we’re on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can’t go through two men.

7. If we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast, so it’s hard to track us.

8. When we march, we keep moving till dark, so as to give the enemy the least possible chance at us.

9. When we camp, half the party stays awake while the other half sleeps.

10. If we take prisoners, we keep’ em separate till we have had time to examine them, so they can’t cook up a story between’ em.

11. Don’t ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won’t be ambushed.

12. No matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout 20 yards ahead, 20 yards on each flank, and 20 yards in the rear so the main body can’t be surprised and wiped out.

13. Every night you’ll be told where to meet if surrounded by a superior force.

14. Don’t sit down to eat without posting sentries.

15. Don’t sleep beyond dawn. Dawn’s when the French and Indians attack.

16. Don’t cross a river by a regular ford.

17. If somebody’s trailing you, make a circle, come back onto your own tracks, and ambush the folks that aim to ambush you.

18. Don’t stand up when the enemy’s coming against you. Kneel down, lie down, hide behind a tree.

19. Let the enemy come till he’s almost close enough to touch, then let him have it and jump out and finish him up with your hatchet.

Information contained on this website is for general information and educational purposes only. Please refer to our Disclaimer and Terms and Conditions before attempting any technique described herein.



Photo by Ingvar Rasmussen

To Do Today:

  • PT – 45min run / strength – chest group / abs
  • Journal known personal survival mindset strengths and weaknesses.
  • What opportunities are you creating, or taking advantage of, to improving your mental resilience and SERE weaknesses? Not just in a high risk scenario but in life.
  • What threats do you face eroding your mindset and resilience. What is your course of action (COA) to minimize and eliminate those threats?
  • Friday rules in effect at 1730.

Your mindset during a survival, escape, or evasion situation is core to success or failure. It is usually called the “will to survive” although “attitude” and “mental toughness” are good descriptions as well. If you cannot bring the necessary cerebral tools into play quickly, and for however long it takes, you may not make it.

A guideline that can assist you quickly structuring your mindset in a high stress situation is the acronym ” SURVIVAL”.

Size up:

  • Size up the situation.
  • Conceal yourself from any potential threat (i.e., enemy, bandits, criminals, an ex-wife, etc.). Security is necessarily first in a potentially hostile environment.
  • Maintain your wits and use all of your senses to determine what is happening in your immediate area before making a survival plan.
  • Size up your surroundings.
  • Determine the rhythm or pattern of the area.
  • Note animal and bird noises and their movement.
  • Note possible threat traffic and/or civilian movement in non-permissive situations.
  • Size up your physical condition.
  • Check your wounds and give yourself first aid.
  • Take care to prevent further bodily harm.
  • Evaluate your condition and the condition of anyone with you prior to developing a plan
  • Size up your equipment.
  • Consider how available equipment may affect survival; tailor accordingly.

Undue haste makes waste:

  • Plan your moves. Hydration and calories count.
  • Make a plan and stick with it.
  • Every move must have a purpose and intent.
  • Always take security and safety into consideration, especially when potential threats are near.

Remember where you are:

  • Constantly orient yourself. If you have a map, spot your location and relate it to the surrounding terrain.
  • Pay close attention to where you are and where you are going.
  • Try to determine, at a minimum, how your location relates to the following: The location of any potential threats or non-permissive areas, the location of potential assistance (i.e., built-up areas, fire watch towers, roads with traffic), friendly villages or areas, the location of water sources, always be aware of areas and routes that will provide good cover and concealment.

Vanquish fear and panic:

  • The feeling of fear and panic may be present. You must control these emotions.

Improvise and Improve:

  • Use tools designed for one purpose for other applications.
  • Use objects around you for different needs. (i.e. use a rock for a hammer)

Value living:

  • Place a high value on living.
  • Refuse to give into the problem and obstacles that face you.
  • Draw strength from individuals that rise to the occasion.

Act like the natives:

  • Observe the people in the area to determine their daily eating, sleeping, and drinking routines.
  • Observe animal life in the area to help you find sources of food and water.
  • Animals cannot and should not serve as an absolute guide to what you can eat and drink.
  • Remember that animal reactions can reveal your presence to potential threats.

Live by your wits:

  • But for now, learn and practice SERE skills and take advantage of the time you have to do so.

Information contained on this website is for general information and educational purposes only. Please refer to our Disclaimer and Terms and Conditions before attempting any technique described herein.