I spent summer 2011 training at the beautiful Marine Corps Base Quantico, in Quantico, Virginia. While there, I learned many valuable things, and in the Marine Corps tradition, I learned them the hard way. I was there for only six weeks, but in just that tiny period, the Marine Corps taught me lessons that I wish I had known for my entire life.
Well, it’s your lucky day, because I’m sparing you all the misery and yelling and sharing all the gold…
I wrote down some quotes from the talented and motivating staff down there that illustrate some important points. It’s hard to paraphrase Marines without using some colorful language, so bear with me.. I translated best that I could.
PROTIP: IF YOU’RE TOO LAZY TO READ THE WHOLE THING, FAST FORWARD TO THE END FOR THE SPARKNOTES/SOME SWEET MUSIC
“I’m not here for the uniform, not here for a career, not here for the sex or
the guns, I’m here for the boys.”
We all know playing lax is cool, and the ladies, they love it. However, if those are reasons why you play a sport or join a team, you are WRONG. Lacrosse is a team sport, therefore it tracks that everything you do MUST be based on the men who are there supporting you.
As an individual, you MUST cease to exist, because as an individual, you are completely useless.
It’s one thing to disappoint yourself, and if you’re okay with that, then I can’t help you anyway.
That said, it’s a hell of a lot harder to be okay with disappointing the 40+ other men who have busted their ass for you. Most of us have let somebody down at a big moment, and it’s the worst feeling you can have.
To avoid this feeling, always remember who and what you’re really working for.
“Execute with violence and intensity everything you do.”
This one is nice and straight forward. Even If you screw up, hell, especially if you screw up, you better be sure you make it look better than the guy who’s doing it right.
“We should remember that one man is much the same as another, and that he is best who is trained in the severest school.”
“The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.”
“Training must be like a bloodless battle so that battle is just like bloody training.”
“We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.”
“Proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance.”
“Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.”
And my new personal favorite: “Pain retains.”
I grouped these together because they’re basically all saying the same thing, and that thing is important.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. I hate running, but in the months before I left for Quantico, I ran my ass off five days a week, and lifted too. The point isn’t how awesome or dedicated I am; the point is that it is always better to suffer on your own terms and conditions than on somebody else’s.
The harder you push yourself when nobody is watching, the less you’ll be gasping and feeling sorry for yourself on the big stage.
The point isn’t “get in good shape so the games are easy”; the point is to make games clearer by allowing you to focus on making the next big play instead of worrying about sucking in as much air as humanly possible.
Train for the worst possible situation, that way anything the opposition can throw at you won’t phase you.
“I will hold myself accountable for all that I do, and all that I fail to do.”
“If they failed, I failed.”
“Discipline above all else, always.”
Another easy one. There can be NO room for excuses, it really is just that simple. You don’t have to be a team captain to take responsibility for your teammates; leadership is not an exclusive activity.
WARNING: It won’t always be fun. It’s easy to say, “he made a bad pass” or, “our coach sucks.” But, as you should have learned by now, if it’s easy, it’s wrong. Attention to detail can be a pain, but it pays off – promise.
“Lead me, follow me, or get out of the way.”
On a well oiled machine, there is no room for dead weight. Does this mean everyone has to be a bluechip stud? Hell no – I’m certainly not. But we less gifted players can make up for any lack of athletic skill we have in other areas of the game.
The great news about this one is that it’s so easy, and literally anybody can do it. It can be anything: get the guys going during early morning runs, be the guy pushing people in the weight room, make sure there’s water, maybe help out a buddy who’s feeling down.
Things like this take no talent or natural ability, just a desire to do good.
“Always lead from the front.”
Whether you realize it or not, every single thing is a competition. Always trying to be the best is a state of mind that becomes a habit. Talladega Nights said it best, “if you ain’t first, you’re last.”
You might ask, “but how do I get to the front?”. I might answer “You should know that by now, read this article again.” There are no shortcuts, you are going to have to work hard. If you don’t want to, that’s fine too.. but think of it this way, who would inspire you more – the guy who wins the race and is ready for more, or the kid gasping and weezing trying to avoid re-experiencing lunch?
“He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.”
Concept of Hard Targeting:
“Don’t be a weak individual” (aka a ‘whiskey bravo’)
Before you’re a college student, before you’re a lacrosse player, before you’re a frat bro, an i-banker, lawyer or doctor, you are a man. Act accordingly.
Always have pride in who you are, what you’re doing, and the uniform that you wear.
I’ll stop here, although I could ramble on for days. Just incase you missed it, the real takehome messages are:
1: It isn’t about you; always think “we”, not “me”.
2: Leadership has nothing to do with talent.
Hopefully you see that this advice extends far beyond the boundaries of a lacrosse field. I’ll leave you with the best advice I’ve ever received: Just be a genuinely good dude and the rest will take care of itself.
PS: I’ll try to throw up a cool, totally random song with each post. This one is a little old, but still one of my favorites.
“Slave”, a remix by The Girls Can Hear Us!