14. Marine Corps Leadership Traits

When I joined the Marine Corps in 2004 I got my first experience really cramming “knowledge” into my mind. Shortly after you arrive at boot camp you are given a small three ring binder that is full of Marine Corps information.

Everything in this binder you have to memorize by heart.

They give you the rank structure. The history of the Marine Corps to include famous figures and famous battles. There were basic medical steps. Your general orders as a military man. And they provided you with the Marine Corps Leadership Traits.

To this day I still know the Mnemonic phrase that goes along with them.


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

Throughout boot camp knowing “J J DID TIE BUCKLE” was life and death

In boot camp you have inspections. During these inspections you have a drill instructor screaming in your face while you are supposed to recite some bit of Marine Corps knowledge, or you demonstrate mastery of manipulating your weapon.

“TELL ME JJ DID TIE BUCKLE” – The drill instructor would yell.

And immediately you’d have to launch into saying all of the words that make up the Marine Corps leadership traits. And you better not mess up because the drill instructors are definitely listening.

Memorizing is the first step to knowing them by heart

By being able to recite all of the leadership traits from memory it starts to bake in the ability to choose to value these traits when the time comes for them to be relevant. It is very difficult to have initiative if you don’t even know what the word means. It is also difficult to be decisive, or have good judgement.

The leadership traits point in the direction of how one becomes a leader. These traits happen to be the traits relevant for leading. Those whom demonstrate them earn influence with all those around them, consistently.

And for those that become Marines, soon to be young leaders, this fact is beaten into them at an early age.


13. People Value What They Do

If you ever want to know what a person values, just look at what they do. One doesn’t need to do a deep psycho-analysis to peer into their subconscious, just simple observations and making true statements.

Below are a few observational tips for discovering what a person values.

What Do They Actually Do?

If you’re trying to understand a person take a look at what the person physically do.

Do they talk often? (Ignore for a moment what they actually say) That probably means they enjoy talking.

Do they constantly clean and organize? They must value an organized living space.

Do they frequently make self deprecating statements? They must value high self-consciousness.

My Wife Christine Values Cooking and Lone Time

If you met my wife Christine very quickly you would find out that she values cooking. She cooks and prepares food every single day for breakfast, lunch and dinner for her family. If given a large list of activities that need to happen, if being in the kitchen is one of them, then that’s what she will choose.

The other is valuing her lone time. This kind of value, can be difficult to observe without getting to know the person. However, my wife is an introvert who is surrounded by a rambunctious family. As a result, she spends most of her day in the service of others and having to listen and respond to people. By the end of the day, once the children have been put to bed, you will find her huddled up on the couch reading a book. It turns out that’s what she would rather be doing than the many other activities in her life.

What Do They Say?

Trying to understand what a person values by what they say is a tricky endeavor. When people speak it is not uncommon for them to state what they want their public “persona” to be. When what they say does not match what they do, people often call this a “do say gap.” There is figuratively a gap between what they say and what they do.

However, that can even tell you much about them.

Even a say do gap will tell you what they believe you will value about them.

“That guy doesn’t know who he is missing with. If he would have said something back, I would have given it to him.”

This tough guy statement is made by many males to their friends. It isn’t to say that this is a say-do-gap but that this person values the idea of them being tough in a moment that they would need to be. This isn’t to say this person has courage, decisiveness, dependability or initiative (all valuable traits in the time of physical duress). It just says that this person values the idea of them being able to “handle it.”

Verbalized values, tend to be what we want others to believe about us.

It is rare that people will adopt beliefs about you based on what you say, versus what you do. However, it does give them insights into what we think we value about ourselves. If you value courageous people, saying so makes it plain to other people that you value courageous people. This in turn might make people a bit aware of times to be courageous. Whether or not they will be more of that, such as to “win your favor” is another story. The fastest way to get others to adopt values, is by exhibiting the behaviors of a person who much have those values.

Do you know the values of your friends, family and yourself?

Consider putting together a list of what everyone you know values. By calling conscious attention to this effort it will make you more effective with communicating with them. In the end, it will make you more able to earn and spend influence with them.


12. 5 Types of People You Can’t Help

Although this video has many christian themes and overtones, the content is worthwhile for those who intentionally earn and use influence.

Not everything can be explained, asked or provided to a person at all times, by all people. Working and therefore connecting with people is complicated business.

This video, among many good messages, helps people empathize with themselves during the times that they feel they have “failed” to reach out to someone. It also assists in understanding that when a person “denies” you speaking with them, or “getting it” not to take it personally, but rather accept the person is where they are, and that if they get “that message”, it’ll come in due time.


11. Emotions for Others

You have the power to modulate other people’s emotions. But are you using this power?

Most people do not choose their response’s to incidents, instead they yield over what they will feel to that which in front of them. People just “react.”

This “reacting” spills over into other people causing them to react as well. A chain-reaction if you will.

Is there someone with a bad personality at work? This person’s attitude will cascade throughout the organization, touching one person after another.

There is even an entire “genre” of videos online, dedicated to people “reacting” to something. In this situation, you gain your entertainment pleasures by reacting to them reacting.

We inherently know that we react to the environment around us. If you want to feel sad, you play sad music. If you want to feel happy you eat a “victory” ice cream.

However, the dark side to just reacting, is we are always victims to other people’s emotions. As a result, we cannot become influential leaders.

But you don’t have to react, you can choose your response.

Through training yourself to be calm and collected the world no longer can choose who you are. Instead, you choose who you are.

Once you have gained a separation from the emotions that others are emitting you have the ability to influence them. In fact, you may have already realized that by being calm and collected, it significantly improves other people’s ability to be calm and collected.

With this separation you now have the ability to truly listen.

You have the ability to understand that a person is frustrated, not at you, but just frustrated. And by providing a listening ear to a frustrated person, you have the chance of pulling them up and out of this frustration by your mere existence.

By buoying yourself from the reactions of others, you provide a life raft for others to grab onto.

Leaders can push forward when the emotions of others are shepherded

It’s a leaders job to bring the people to where they need to be. Throughout this process people will encounter all sorts of issues. Unless the leader has the ability to maintain their fortitude, the leader will not be able to provide the needed guidance and support for those being led.

You have this skill just as much as anyone else. Notice the people around you have predictable emotions based on what they see in front of them. When one person acts a certain way, the other person is “supposed” to have their reaction to it.

The same applies to you. Based on your disposition of calm and collected yet warm. People must “react” to you.

Take ownership of others’ emotions.


10. In 2020 the Belief of Collapse is Everywhere

There is no bigger example of leadership voids than taking a look at the current zeitgeist of collapse.

These voids are why in the year 2020 the feeling of uncertainty is everywhere. There is a constant belief, everywhere, that people are going to lose their jobs, that the economy is going to collapse, that World War 3 is going to happen any minute, an apocalypse is around the corner, a super virus-bacteria will kill everyone, that “big government” is spying on them in that moment, the planet is collapsing, and in the end everyone is doomed.

There is clearly a leadership crisis. Where are we going? Nowhere? I guess that means we’re all dead!

This environment of uncertainty is allowing an unprecedented levels of predation to occur.

Just look at security sales.

Perhaps never in human history has safety and security been a bigger drain of resources than today. There is no shortage of examples of resource depletion from uncertainty from the expenditures at the highest levels such as a global bureaucratic military industrial complex and the growing gargantuan cyber security industry to the personal level of the sale of fire arms and home intrusion systems. Expenses on “security” are breath taking.

Even though statistics prove that human life has never been better, uncertainty is building and growing.

If you grow in leadership, you can dispel uncertainty

Before going into how to dispel uncertainty, remember that its a leadership void. It’s real simple.

Uncertainty dissipates when there is movement towards an honorable purposeful mission where the person who leads it keeps their concerns on the well being and forward progress of the people.

The four step approach to dispel uncertainty, now.

  1. Take a breath
  2. Imagine a future to build, starting now.
  3. Communicate this vision to others with intention.
  4. Create forward momentum, even if its tiny.

The reason that people have such uncertainty, is their lack of forward moment in a direction of their choosing. If this is you, or others you know, you ought to take a step back and get your breath.

You need to be able to see in your mind a better future clearly. Figure that out, even if its something small like “my house should be cleaner.”

Communicate what you see to other people. Avoid trying to convince them that this is the right course, instead speak with intentional and in a focused manner. You are going in a particular direction, because of something that you have noticed. Then consider inviting others to join that vision.

Once you’ve communicated it, get to work implementing it. Within minutes, the uncertainty that permeates in the environment around you will begin to dissipate. This is the power of forward momentum. Each step forward creates a clearer and clearer picture that where you are going, is real.

You have the power to dispel “collapse” in your life

While there are an unbelievable number of things that are outside of your control, there is still considerable amount that you know you already know you can begin stepping forward with to build forward momentum in your life, and others.

Be careful following “leaders” who radiate uncertainty.

Regardless of the problems that exist, there is always a way to survive. There is always something that can and should be done about it. There is always the need to face it, rather than run away from it. This is why you must begin dispelling uncertainty by being a force for the future.


9. Ode To Resilience

Resilience is under-rated.

It’s not taught in most schools. Many parents don’t have it. And it can be difficult to find in person mentors who have it.

Resilience never goes out of style yet it’s not stylish.

It is earned steadily, daily, overtime, through intentional preparedness and withstanding trials by fire.

Resilience looks like making due without power for days in your cushy home. Taking a shower in the rain and pooping in a slit trench outside when your house has no water. All with a smile and joyful glee.

Resilience is moving on from the past, accepting the present, and choosing where your future direction is going to be.

While resilience can be explained, it cannot be given away. It isn’t a physical thing. It just isn’t your stuff.

Resilience gives everyone the ability to work together, to overcome real obstacles and create a life that is fun and enjoyable.

Every day that marches on, the world shows how much it needs individuals to be more resilient. Will you choose to be resilient today?


8. From Overweight to In shape: Self-Influence

From 2007 until 2015 I was over-weight, to the tune of 40 lbs too heavy.

Years of poor decisions built up until I had reached the weight limit in the Marine Corps and in 2009 I deployed to Afghanistan as a near overweight person.

While my weight never overpowered me while training up to go, I never really spent the time to shrug it off. Instead, I had decided that partying was more important.

After 8 months in country, you would think that I would have lost weight from the 115 degree heat, or what little bit of exercise that I did.

Well, I hadn’t.

That is until right at the very end.

I made the decision to do “just a little” bit of working out.

You see, I’m not a person who likes to work out. Its OK, but I would far rather do something than run in place or lift the same weights a million times. Such as hiking or in the case of when I was a young adult, skateboarding.

However, about two months before leaving country I started going back to the gym. Nothing crazy just a little bit of treadmill and light weights.

Three weeks past, and not a single pound dropped off. It wasn’t really my intent to lose weight, just get a bit “healthier” so I stuck with it.

One day I woke up and something was different.

For some reason, something felt different. I was laying in bed and started touching my waist. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but it felt like all of a sudden I had lost some weight.

I didn’t think too much of it, so I went about my day and went to get the mediocre British breakfast served. (I was on a British base in Afghanistan).

“Hey did you lose weight?” – A friend asked.

“Yeah, I guess I did.” – Replied

People apparently could notice.

I went to bed overweight, and woke up skinnier.

For some people when they work out the results are immediate. They can track the pounds that they lose and gain momentum. For me, it apparently fell off.

Throughout the remainder of the day I continued to receive the “did you lose weight?” question.

Upon leaving Afghanistan I had finally lost weight that had been on my body for years.

But the weight crept back on

By 2015 weight had returned to my body. Even though I had been a part time farmer, the weight had returned. So I decided to try something different.

I woke up early. Meditated and did light exercise.

And that’s all it took.

Within three months I lost 40 lbs.

It just took a bit of consistency. Nothing crazy. No “maxing out”. “No cross fit.” Just good ol fashioned body weight exercises in my office.

By the end of 3 months, my body was built like a machine. I went from 6 pullups to 20 pullups (the Marine Corps physical fitness test maximum count). I had six pack abs.

I was as light as I had been since 7th grade.

All it took was a little consistency.

Consistency and showing up has results. It takes just a bit of time, its not immediate. But if you consistently apply yourself you’ll get results.

I share this story with you because if you happen to be a little out of shape, you can get into shape quickly. I know many other people within a very, very, short amount of time they managed to shape their bodies and achieve their goals.

There’s nothing special about me in this regard. Just like anyone else my weight fluctuates when I decide that healthy eating and exercise aren’t that important to me.

In particular, its when I decide that I don’t need to get up early.

If you’re a bit out of shape, don’t kill yourself, just do a little working out.

Oh, and you’ll earn just a wee bit of influence from yourself throughout the process.


7. Chaos Sleeps In

If you want to get important work done in your life, you have to wake up early.

For some people this is a gut punch, but its true. Everything that is difficult to get done in our lives throughout the day can be accomplished between the hours of 3am to 8am.

Do you want to become healthy? Do you want to become a writer? Or better plan for the day?

Its real simple. Get up early.

Chaos stays up late and wakes up when it feels comfortable

Everything in your life that is a distraction wants to visit you between the hours of 8am to 3am.

Throughout the day there are gremlins that want to eat your time.

  • Friends who have nothing better to do than hang out.
  • Telemarketers trying to get you on the phone.
  • Children full of energy and joy.
  • Even beautiful spouses who love to interrupt by being so helpful.

While all fun and helpful, they’re productivity killers for long concentration work.

But what about in the evenings? Surely you can write your book in the evenings. What about….

  • Friends that want you to go out in the evenings
  • All those Netflix TV series you haven’t watched yet.
  • Or the last few levels of that video game you like.

These will cap your day off leaving you with no time to get those important things done.

What should you be doing?

Nearly everyone fails to get done something they know they either want to get done, or what they should get done. For some reason, nearly all of these things, can be performed between the hours of 3am and 8am.

  • Need to exercise to earn being healthy?
  • Prepare for the day?
  • Read the books that bring you life?
  • Meditate on intentionally living?
  • Write your own book?
  • Send those needed business emails?
  • Learn to fish?

I personally lost 40 lbs within 3 months of of waking up early and performing light exercise for 30-45 minutes.

I have written thousands of pages in books.

Getting up early is hard, but it earns you life.

The reason to get up early is because it provides you with a window of opportunity that is completely closed to others. If you want growth, you need to push your boundaries of comfort. Those who don’t do that, allow themselves to stay up too late, and wake up when their body feels comfortable.

This is about forming a habit of commitment. Commitment is difficult, it requires intent, and it yields you the long term rewards associated with it.

How to wake up early

Waking early is really simple to say, it just requires follow up. Here are the steps I’ve used to help get me out of bed early.

  • Cultivate a burning desire to get certain things done, that aren’t getting done. (Reading, writing, exercising, etc)
  • State openly the commitment to getting up early.
  • Create an intentional schedule for the early morning.
  • Set your alarm for 4am.
  • Go to bed by 9:30pm.
  • Get up out of bed immediately at 4am and walk into another room.
  • Do this for at least 45 days.

Lastly, waking up early is about influence. Yourself and others.

Being able to wake up early and get done what needs to get done, makes you a leader. It makes you an influencer of yourself. In order to influence other people to be productive, you have to be productive.

If you want other people to get an urge to be healthy, you have to gain the urge to become healthy.

People need you to wake up early, so they can leave you alone while you intentionally build a life that can help them. Everyday is battle to be won and it starts with winning with yourself. If you can influence yourself, you can influence others. Remember, the world needs people who have great capacity, so they can see further and shepherd the way.

That should be you.


6. Drive Action

Somewhere around January of 2017 I co-founded the “Live Oak Permaculture Group” outside of New Orleans, LA. Partnering with a local community organizer we came together to create a group that would meet up, discuss permaculture, and help people implement and gain some insights how they could live a little more self reliance and lighter on the planet.

Through that process we held classes, taught tree grafting lessons, consulted on permaculture designs, hosted lunches and overall met similar company. We even organized about a dozen volunteers to install the apple and chestnut savannah on our farm in Louisiana, equipped with well over 80 varieties of southern apples. It was truly amazing to see what 12, motivated, volunteers could do.

I became both the leader and the “technical expert trainer”

I believed at the time that serving the group was by becoming the person out in front who would host classes and demonstrate what techniques for creating sustainability. Nearly every event, I found myself being the primary topic at least 80% of the time, with the occasional event held off site at another person’s home, or guest speaker.

As time went on I found it increasingly more difficult for others to try and take this baton, instead wishing that I would do the teaching, since I was more experienced.

Overtime the group lacked something…

While The Live Oak Permaculture Group was successful in teaching people at the events, it reached a plateau both in numbers but in energy. After about a year of hosting events, dozens of people would signup, but only about 15 people would show up. Our events, while improved in quality, started to feel a bit stale.

A core group had formed, who after a few years, mostly just wanted to hang out with like minded people and wish that the world was different.

Instead of action, there was only chitter chatter

This situation runs opposite to how I felt about the group. From the beginning I dreamed the group would be action oriented. A group that would go out and interacting with the community. The group would be able to utilize our internal knowledge and skillsets to make needed change.

But I rarely brought this action orientation up, instead continually griping about it in private that the group should be out there “doing.”

During those years, I wasn’t sure how to handle this juxtaposition. On one hand, I was the leader and could drive the members in a particular direction and on the other hand “it wasn’t happening.” Instead of sharing this with the group and being open, I kept them in and focused on the people that I was interacting with.

Some say that a leader’s job is to serve the people under their leadership. While this is true, the leader doesn’t serve the people, when the leader only focuses on their immediate desires and what they can express verbally now.

A leader really becomes a leader when the they help people serve the needs of others and act on their highest values.

The issue was there wasn’t an external vision

Because the group focused only on itself, it had no reason to grow. There was no compelling reasons to improve their skills, improve their confidence, and definitely small reason for people to join the group.

The group lived entirely in the “what can I get from this group” rather than “how can I help this group succeed?”

The members of the group became more disconnected with the people outside of it. The members of the group more and more wanted to sit back and have others do the work. The members more and more drifted away.

If, however, there was a vision that extended beyond the members group, and if the leader drove that vision instead of “giving the members what they want”, the group would have grown, as individuals and as a group.

All of the resources that were on the table, were locked by the lack of vision of the leader.

If you happen to be a leader of a similar group, or considering creating a group, consider this a lesson. The members of the group need a leader, not a technical expert. They gain confidence through action. To keep the group growing, alive, and productive there must be action that engages with outside entities.


5. Leadership Academy: A Fresh Idea

The U.S. is missing land steward leaders and I want to fix it.

Throughout my travels visiting farms and working with “permaculture entrepreneurs” it has become clear to me just how inwardly focused the mass culture has become. Not only is narcissism rampant, its often rewarded.

As a result, instead of “those-who-grow” growing communities and the earth, they sow destruction.

In order for these eco-doers to obtain their ideals, they need to look outward

Have you ever seen a person work their passion so intensely that they shut out others? Have you seen people lose relationships, miss growth opportunities, and fail to reach their potential because of their “passion?”

Steve the farmer started from the dirt up. At the ripe age of 30, he was living in a tent outside an old lady’s home. Yet he was productive. Within 4 years, having left the tent behind he began renting a house on 5 acres and built a successful farmers market and local sprout business.

If you visited his home, he will give you grand tours of his farm and sprout room he produces and delivers sprouts locally.

During this time, people became attracted to Steve because of his work ethic, quality crops, and extreme passion for growing and healthy food. Steve, always friendly at the markets, is quite the person to visit with.

If you visited Steve at the market you might see a new friendly face working with him.

“This is my girlfriend” – Steve would say.

Over the years Steve became very fond of a few girls, yet for each relationship, at least one that he married, they never worked out.

There has been many workers that worked with Steve. Things always start out great and motivational, but there was always something, in the end.

With everyone one of these relationship failures there was at least 1 reason. But there was something that Steve couldn’t piece between them all. He failed to see the common denominator. Steve.

Steve is responsible for his relationships. All of them.

Steve’s problems were not the outside party that was setting his wife off in a legal dispute, or that his fiancee was “abusive”, it was the fact Steve could not rise to the occasion to make himself available for his partners.

He distances himself from people who start to become unproductive. Why they’re unproductive, Steve, like many, have no consideration for, even though the efforts of others are crucial for his stability and survival.

Steve’s a doer, not a leader.

A Leadership Academy for the next generation

The many experiences and stories I have interacted with over the years, compels me to create a Leadership Academy.

This leadership academy (currently named the Sanctuary Leadership Academy) will take the next generation of people, teach them how to tend land, produce their own basic resources, and turn them into leaders who use influence for action.

Upon completion of the academy the students will be connected with mentor leaders who will put them into opportunities for them to lead.

Through the mentor’s guidance and their own faculties these newly minted leaders will take on responsibility far beyond what their peers, elders or parents might think possible.

This Leadership Academy will not only be transformational for the student, but for the communities they are deployed to.