How joining the Marine Corps likely led to every good decision I've made since
A friend of mine recently hosted me on his podcast which provided me with a measure of clarity. I had been planning on writing a post about the three best decisions I’ve made in my life but after listening to the podcast (which my friend titled “The Best Decision I Ever Made”), I realized that one decision has led to virtually every good decision I’ve ever made.
People I know have probably heard this story but the summer before my senior year of high school, I was a lifeguard with long hair and an earring. My parents had both left for work when our doorbell rang. I opened the door to find a Marine dressed in his Service Charlie uniform. He said that a friend of mine had given him my name as someone who might be interested in the Marine Corps. I didn’t come from a military family and my job at that time and general appearance didn’t make me the poster child recruit. I’m not sure what his exact pitch was but it must have been good as it piqued my interest. That visit led to an ROTC scholarship and a subsequent five years in the Marine Corps.
As I look back on those five years, they were the most formative of my life. My parents had always held me to a high standard but the Marine Corps took that to another level entirely. To be part of something larger than yourself, something that is almost mythical in nature is transformative. The day you become a Marine, you are acutely aware that every decision you make will be a reflection on the Marine Corps and its standard of excellence. The privilege of leading Marines makes you grow up in a hurry as does being surrounded by what a fellow Marine and good friend described as a “wolf pack” of peers who hold you accountable, push you, and make you better. You can’t choose the family you’re born into but you can choose your “wolf pack.” Choose a pack which makes you better than you’d be on your own. I believe that what the Marine Corps gave me led to make my best personal and professional decisions in the intervening years. But always in the back of my mind is the question, “Have I lived up to the standard?”