As you may have read on my FB page. The Marine Corps Commandant has chosen his new senior enlisted advisor, Sgt Major Ronald L. Green. He is only the 18th Marine in history to hold the title and his selection alone confirms him a stand out performer for his entire thirty one year career.
I was privileged to serve for 2 years along side the Sgt Maj when I was a Captain and he was my senior enlisted advisor as a First Sergeant. When I checked into the unit we got to talk for a few minutes, I became familiar with his current duties and previous postings, his after-work project, a Bachelor’s in Computer Science as his wife completed her Masters of Nursing Administration, all while raising two young children. I knew immediately I could learn a great deal from this man. I did learn many and important lessons from him and some of these lessons I will share later, but I wanted to share this one now because it can make an impact today.
Remember the importance of a system and applying it with effort and focus. One morning over coffee and our “daily download” the future Sgt Major of the Marine Corps told me the simple system he followed for success. Bear in mind, if he retired that day, he already achieved a level of success in his career most people, military or civilian would envy. First Sergeant said it all dated back to when as young Private he checked into his first unit and stood at attention in front the First Sergeant’s desk.
“Green, if you are where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there, wearing what your supposed to be wearing and doing what you’re supposed to be doing you will outpace 85% of your peers.”
Did it make an impression on young Private Green? Well he shared it with me twenty years later. Did it work? I say the picture at the top of the page answers that. I am not arguing he didn’t need to distinguish himself from the top 99.9% to get the top slot as Sgt Maj. But, I will argue it didn’t take a different system. Imagine if you applied his system to stand out from 85% of the crowd today. Big difference? maybe, but imagine the cumulative effect of one year, one decade, how about three decades! Like our physical training, day in and day out consistency of high quality effort over time separates us further and further from average.
Think about all those people around you who constantly have an excuse or an angle as to why someone else is achieving and they are not. That’s the 85%, they don’t execute the First Sergeant’s system consistently. Think about the last time you hit all the elements in that list for a week straight, ok a day. Imagine if applied effort and focus to this system, how would our performance in any activity compare with the pack. What if we did this not only in our physical training but our career, playing with our kids or special occasions with our significant other? Too much effort? This is our year to look out to the horizon of what we can accomplish and push toward it, don’t let it slip away one day at a time.