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NDTO News Article

Leadership Lessons

Each week I like to inspire my team with leadership lessons I have been given along the way. This week with celebrating the 245th year of the Marine Corps (November 10, 1775) and Veterans Day upon us, I shared the following lesson:

I believe that leadership is an extremely important component to success in life and business. I know that I rely on the military and my experiences in the Marine Corps often and know that some of you may question why I do this. The simple answer is that I believe that the military is one of the greatest institutions in developing and testing one’s leadership ability. You are already leaders, and I hope that these discussions will help in honing your leadership skills.

Annually, on November 10th, the US Marine Corps family celebrates and reflects on being part of an organization that takes great pride in being part of something bigger than the individual. Excellence in leadership is the hallmark of a Marine. In difficult times, I often refer to the acronym “JJ DID TIE BUCKLE.” The acronym refers to the 14 leadership traits of a Marine, “Justice, Judgement, Dependability, Initiative, Decisiveness, Tact, Integrity, Enthusiasm, Bearing, Unselfishness, Courage, Knowledge, Loyalty, and Endurance.”

A favorite memory is studying for a meritorious promotions board with my Corporal, Sergeant, x2 Staff Sergeant, Gunnery Sergeant, and Lieutenant, all sitting on the top of an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) at “O-dark-thirty”, in the well deck of a ship, cruising somewhere in the Pacific. At this session, after a particularly grueling day, they worked with me for hours to ensure that I was prepared. I distinctly remember going over and over the “JJ acronym,” but what I remember most is how all these Marines were putting into practice what they were imparting. The next day I was tired, nervous, and yes, a little scared, but that study session propelled me into that room with an attitude of wanting to make those leaders proud.

If you are curious, I did well and was quite shocked when I reported to the board and saw that two of my examiners had been atop that AAV helping me practice! I stood my ground and answered every question the board threw at me to the best of my ability. Little did I know, my lesson in leadership was not over. Before being dismissed, I overheard my Lieutenant thank the ranking officer “for doing this,” and I was asked to send in one of the Marines waiting by the hatch. That Marine was selected for promotion. I would later learn that my unit was not allocated a promotion slot and that I had been ineligible for promotion all along. My Leaders thought it would be a good learning experience for me and to acknowledge that I had been doing a good job and had asked for a “mock” examination to be conducted.  Mission accomplished! It was one heck of a learning experience and one that I will never forget! At the end of the day, I didn’t care that I wasn’t pinning on a new stripe. What mattered to me the most is that I made my leadership team proud, and they had thought enough of me to invest the time and effort.

I appreciate the many lessons I have learned over the years and I am eternally grateful. Happy Birthday, Marines!

Best regards and Semper Fidelis,

Drew Combs