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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.

“J J DID TIE BUCKLE”

  • 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.