2014 Review – 2015 Goals, Objectives & Bucket List

What better way to wrap 2014 at LifebyDamien.com than facing the fire and comparing myself to how I did on the 2014 Goals and Bucket list?  Well – I’ll do that, AND set a new list of goals and bucket list items for 2015.

Deep Run Pano
Deep Run Pano

I think this is a great exercise for anyone who is trying to ensure they are on track for progression – and especially those who are looking for and/or are expecting change in the near future (1-3 years).  I have heard more advice, and continued to develop myself through 2014 – which has shaped my goals and intentions as I carry forward in my professional, and personal lives.

First, how did I stack up to my 2014 goals, objectives and bucket list?  In some ways: fantastic and in other ways: dismal.   I completed 3 of my 5 goals.  Of the 17 objectives I needed to hit in order to reach the 5 goals, I completed 11 of them.  Oddly enough, completing all objectives for a given goal doesn’t mean the goal was obtained (note to self on better setting objectives).  I also noted some goals, for which none of the objectives were obtained – lets me know what I put priority on.  My largest defeat was only in completing 2 of 8 bucket list items.

I want to run through them briefly, before laying out goals and respective objectives for 2015, along with an exciting “bucket list”! For details, refer back to my earlier post HERE in 2013 in Review:

Goal:  Begin my MBA at NYU:  While I did study for my GMAT, take the GMAT, and obtain a desired score, I did not apply to NYU, or any other MBA program. That has been delayed, and I am not sure when I will pursue – but hopefully soon enough.  I admit defeat here.

Goal:  Meet face to face with my company’s CEO, Robert Benmosche:  I met all of my objectives, but not the goal.  I have made great progress in what I was working on, only the CEO changed and a new CEO stepped in.  The work I have been doing has been discussed and recognized by the new CEO.  I was also able to speak with him, just a few months before he took his role.  So – I chalk that up to “close”, but this goal isn’t horseshoes or hand-grenades.

Goal:  Travel Outside of the Continental U.S.  I NAILED this one!  Passport, work trip to Canada, and personal trip to the Dominican Republic – it was a great goal to fulfill!

Goal: Write, Produce, Record and Master a complete song.  Fell behind here… I have not had as much time to enjoy my musical side.  However, I have been having fun… and a fully completed song may not be too far from the future.

Goal: Buy a House : NAILED IT!  A little off, as we looked at all sorts of options for buying.  What came to reality was a weekend house in the Poconos.  With recent developments and investments by larger developers in the area, and in selecting a home that is in the heart of multiple ski-lifts and Summer resorts, I think we made a great investment.  Not to mention, The prices make it seem like a forced increase in retirement planning – but I can hang out here (I’m here in our Poconos House as I complete this article) as I contribute to my retirement, where as I can’t hang out in my Roth or 401k.

For Love of Country - SIgned
For Love of Country – SIgned

Goal: Begin Writing a Book:  Okay, so I have begun writing… but still very loosely.  I can’t say I have a full on, fully bought-into book and outline. I very occasionally write a passage to add to the book, and I still consider multiple book ideas to pursue. Just which am I currently pursuing?  I’ll keep that one to myself for now.

Bucket List 2014:  I was able to go Scuba Diving while in the Dominican Republic, and during the home buying process, we were able to enjoy a great family trip to the Poconos during the Summer.  The rest of my bucket list was left behind.  There were several attempts to go skydiving, but last minute scheduling conflicts made it difficult.  Once winter kicked in, I knew it was off the table.

Okay, so now for 2015 Goals:

Goal: Record & Complete One Full Song

2014-12-31 18.07.26

  • I have neglected a lot of my down time, with an increased work schedule. I need to remember to keep some balance.  Not to mention, I do believe growing musically will also sharpen my mind and allow me to think and trouble-shoot in new ways.
    • Objective 1: Record a complete “Draft” of a song.  This includes 3 verses, a chorus, and all original instrumentals (guitar, and digital Audio tools found in ProTools)
    • Objective 2: Enlist the help, pro bono, of a musician and/or musical engineers to complete the song.
    • Objective 3: Record, karaoke type songs to work on my own vocals.

Goal: Return to a Committed Philanthropic Role (with Transitioning Veterans)

  • IMG_20141222_220743I really enjoyed working as a Mentor and Guest Instructor for the Fall 2013 FourBlock classes in New York. I would like to better manager my work schedule to allow me to do work with FourBlock once again.
    • Objective 1: Plan work travel in advance, working around dates and times needed to be in NYC.  I have previously only planned travel as I needed, and then schedule personal agenda items around work.  I think there is a way to make both work more harmoniously.

Goal: Run the Spartan Trifecta 2015, Tough Mudder 2015 x2

  • This last year I ran the Spartan Sprint (5 miles), and the Tough Mudder (11 miles). The longer I have been out of the military, the greater I appreciate the need to ACTIVELY seek and maintain physical fitness.  My body fat percentage has increase, and my physical stamina and strength have decreased.  So I guess the greater goal is to improve and maintain my physical fitness, and over all self-satisfaction.  But the goal of complete one of each distance Spartan event, and this year running the Tough Mudder TWICE back-to-back will be measurable, and indicative of my work to stay in shape.
    Tough Mudder Team Pic 2014
    Tough Mudder Team Pic 2014
    • Objective 1: Run a minimum of 6 miles per week.
    • Objective 2: Go to the gym, or complete at least 1 strength training work out per week.
    • Objective 3: Register for the races
    • Objective 4: Don’t let scheduling be an excuse

Goal: Confirm Education and Professional Value Building Plan

  • I have let work dictate my current actions, so much so that I have not allotted enough time/attention to the current time that should be allotted for an improved future. While I am not fully convinced that an MBA is exactly what I should be investing both time and money into – I know that I DO need to commit to some sort of professional development, and firmly commit to a career path.  This year should have a pivot point or two in it, and on the far end of those pivots, I should have enough vision to make an informed decision, and a commitment to my future.
    • Objective 1: To be honest – I think objective one is to speak to a career coach.  I am not sure what steps to take, but perhaps a conversation or two with some professionals I have looked to as mentors will be helpful.

Goal: Get Promoted and/or apply to AND Take On an Advanced Role

  • In the course of transitioning into the corporate world as a Military Veteran, I have completed the “step back and over” in order to take a step forward. Well… there is no time to get comfortable.  Now, it is time to step forward.  During the course of 2015 I will have been in my current position for 2 years.  2 years is my limit for staying stagnant without a move up.  As I see it, I am not here to make moves at an average pace.  I am trying to make up for a “late start” into the corporate world.
    Enjoy the now, but always be looking ahead.
    Enjoy the now, but always be looking ahead.
    • Objective 1: Self-Educate on potential roles within my organization
    • Objective 2: Communicate specific interest and my value proposition to the appropriate leaders in my organization
    • Objective 3: Take on a more active role in additional roles requiring leadership and decision making to help validate my worthiness to take on a more senior role than I am in now.

2015 Bucket List:

  • Go snowboarding at no less than 2 different resorts in the Poconos (Jack Frost and Camelback are in my sights).
  • Attend 1 professional sports game/event
  • Buy a small fishing boat (Jon Boat or Canoe/Kayak)
  • Attend 1 political event (something sponsored by or hosted by a local politician, etc)
  • Host a weekend retreat for friends in Poconos House
  • Build my first piece of large wooden furniture (likely a dresser for my kids)
  • Take an advanced Microsoft Excel Class (online or in person… but let’s be honest, likely will be online)
  • Attend at least 2 BJJ classes – just to stay in touch with it… I miss training 4-5 days a week.
  • Skydiving… maybe. I want to, but not sure I want to hold myself accountable to this one

Alright – that is all for now.

Big lessons from 2014’s goals – is that, for as many of the objectives/goals I did NOT hit, I would not have made nearly as many if I did not set them!  I am happy to have done so, and reflecting on the goals I didn’t make, or seeing how goals changed is a great learning experience – for me, and hopefully for those of you reading.

Another great thing about my goals for 2014… in my efforts to obtain them, I found myself making residual gains or achieved/did things I didn’t plan for.  While I didn’t get to a listed sporting eve, I did get to attend a professional soccer game at Red Bull Stadium, and went to the Eminem and Rhianna concert at MetLife Stadium.  I have also made myself more aware of looking towards the future and not delaying the future because I’m too busy with today.  I have been able to help many Veterans in their transitions just by happenstance even though I was not in an official role to do so – and I couldn’t be happier to do so!

2015 is about growing… as will 2016 and 2017.  I look forward to another year of growth and enlightenment – and hopefully to be made aware of new goals to make for the years to come!

Happy New Year!

Noblesse Oblige – An Open Letter to the NYPD and Community Leaders

There has been a lot of controversy – and make no mistake, regardless of one’s stance – our Country, and New York City particularly, need to make a move towards unity or the worst will only be to come.

Daniel Pantaleo and Darren Wilson were not indicted by grand juries – and neither should have been.  The NYPD Cop who killed the innocent Bronx-bodega worker, Reynaldo Cuevas, should not have been indicted either.  The two NYPD officers that shot 9 innocent bystanders in front of the Empire State building while pursuing Jeffrey Johnson, who murdered his former colleague moments earlier, have also not been indicted for any wrong doing.

However, there is a great amount of responsibility that has not been accounted for – and that is what truly bothers me.  And that problem is not tangible.  It is not something that can be easily scape-goated and protested about.  It doesn’t give you one, single person to hold as the guilty party.  But, until that problem is resolved – we will only continue to see “killer cops”.  Sorry to make it less sensational – but let’s also get one thing out of the way – it’s not about race either.  Making it about race is only going to distract from the true problem.

A 23 year old, NJ Police Officer was killed after less than one year on the force.  That trooper, Melvin Santiago responded to an armed robbery – and was shot & killed before he could get out of his car.  This problem, the problem that killed Melvin Santiago, Reynaldo Cuevas, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, resulted in the shooting of 9 innocent bystanders and left families on both sides mourning and scarred for life is the same problem.  Failure in leadership and training.

Every one of these officers, and victims/participants in the associated events, responded to each incident in a way that was reinforced by their training and the expectations that were reinforced upon them – by both the citizens and more importantly, their leadership.  For that, I do not hold any individual officer or person guilty for their actions.  Police Officers have been given a task that is far more difficult than any person who has not held the position will be able to imagine.  At the same time, when given that level of authority, or should I say, nobility – it comes with increased responsibility.  I’d like to go through and briefly recap each incident.

On July 13th, 2014 Jersey City Police Officer Melvin Santiago was killed by failed training and leadership. He responded to a call of an armed robbery and was the first to arrive on-scene.  When he arrived, he pulled his squad car up, with the driver’s side of his cruiser facing the entrance to the Walgreens.  Before he could exit his vehicle, the armed gunman had an unobstructed avenue of approach and used it.  He shot and killed Santiago on the spot.  Proper training would have left Santiago without a doubt that he is most vulnerable when exiting his vehicle.  That said, he should have never pulled in the way he did – his driver’s side, his vulnerable and exposed side, should never have been in direct view of the suspected avenue of approach.  Failure to have been trained to respond properly killed Melvin Santiago.

On Sep 7th, 2012 NYPD officers responded to an armed robbery in the Bronx.  With the suspects held up inside the bodega, officers took positions outside.  When they did, the suspects ran to the back of the store, while 2 bodega works made an attempt to flee.  After just being ordered to the floor by the armed gunmen – Reynaldo Cuevas bolted out the door for his own safety.  A 7 year Veteran-NYPD Officer, was standing outside, gun drawn.  He was positioned poorly and unready when Cuevas ran into the officer, and the officer’s gun.  The officer, who had never fired his weapon in the line of duty during his 7 year career accidentally shot Cuevas – killing him.  As you see the video, you can see it unfold.  The bottom line, in 7 years on the force, there is no way that officer should have been standing where he was.  He was not trained properly – and that lack of training and the leadership to validate training – is what killed Cuevas.


Having taught Combat Marksmanship, and hand-to-hand combat in the Marine Corps, I am confident in identifying improper tactics.  Where that officer was standing – he left himself blind, and in a position where he did not have enough time to react appropriately when ANY person came out of that door.  Cuevas, nor any suspect should have been able to reach and touch the officer before the officer identified him as a threat or not threat.  Members of our most elite forces could have properly made that decisions and saved Cuevas’ life (assuming sub-second decision making time).  As a patrol officer, the NYPD officer should have been positioned so that he would have no less than ~3 seconds to properly conduct a threat assessment, from the time of sight of a person to time of action (I might even be a little generous to offers as little as 3 seconds).

On Friday, August 24th, 2012 – Two NYPD Officers, with little warning are responding to shots fired just less than a block away as Jeffrey Johnson just assassinated his colleague.   As you see in the video, the police officers approach Johnson (without their weapons drawn) and then begin demonstrating their poor training as soon as Johnson pulls out his .45 caliber handgun.  Johnson has his gun out for nearly 2 full seconds, pointed at the police, but doesn’t fire.  In those 2 seconds, the police nearly STUMBLE over each other, BACK PEDALLING until their weapons are drawn and they begin firing from an unbalanced position.  Not to mention, how close the second officer is to shooting his fellow officer that is nearly directly in his line of fire between himself and Johnson.  The police fired 16 shots, killing Johnson, and also injuring 9 innocent bystanders.


What went right?

  • The officers reacted as they were trained to. They cannot be blamed for that.

What went wrong?

  • Their training.
  • Responded to an active shooter situation and their guns were not drawn at the time they had the shooter in closing distance.
  • They stumbled over each other, retreating until they could get their guns drawn. As sworn officers, whose DUTY is to protect the population – they do not have the luxury to fall to the natural human reactions to danger.  They have to go INTO the danger.  If Johnson wanted to pull the trigger – one, if not both of those officers would have been dead.
  • They fired 16 shots! Many of which, were taken while off balance and not well-aimed. There is no reason that a target that is only 10-15’ away had anything less than 100% shot accuracy.  For someone who is untrained, or not trained properly, this is actually normal when considering the psychology that happens in a situation like this.  It is likely in the moment, each officer was not aware of how many rounds they heard, or how many times they pulled the trigger.  By no means is that negligent – but with proper training it can be mitigated.

NYPD, and all police forces must hold their leadership accountable for the training and acceptable performance standards.  Firing on a paper target at a controlled range does NOT prepare officers for an armed confrontation.  The bad guy is not going to wait for you to take a deep breath, exhale, focus, and slowly squeeze.  Proper use of stress inoculation in training will be a helpful tool – but still useless if NYPD leadership continues to reinforce these types of performance as meeting the standard.  The police officers did exactly as they were taught, and for that, cannot and should not be held at fault.


Darren Wilson, and Daniel Pantaleo… I wanted to go into more on these two – but I think the point is made.  Both officers acted in accordance with their training.  When adrenaline goes and actions are taken – detailed thought is not what prevails.  Training and reinforced decision making is what prevails.  If the training is not sufficient, then fear takes over.  When fear takes over – things are rarely taken care of at a level that should be expected from those we entrust to be our domestic protectors.

Watch the video of Eric Garner… the hold that Pantaleo uses to take him down, is not a choke hold.  It is a head and arm manipulation, also known as a controlling technique.  The hold Pantaleo uses on Garner once on the ground IS a choke hold… it is the first, and only point during the choke that Garner tries to speak and can’t.  At that point, he truly could not breath – and his blood-flow (and oxygen) to the brain is stifled.  This sensation doesn’t end for Garner once released, and you begin to hear his pleas that he can’t breathe (at this point he CAN breath, but his blood flow to the brain is still stifled, likely giving him the sensation he cannot breath).  Anytime you even momentarily stop/pause blood flow to the brain during a time of adrenaline and increased blood pressure – you risk the chance of the person going unconscious in a VERY short period of time.


Eric Garner is a big guy – take a look at his shoulders, and his abdomen/torso in particular.  Once he is on the ground, Pantaleo has his knee on Garner’s head (as well as his palm on Garner’s lower jaw/side of neck).  The knee on the head is a trained controlling technique.  However, the windows that Garner is pressed against, has his left shoulder pressed into the far side of his own neck.  Looking at the size of Garner’s torso – the distance his head has to go, to get flat to the ground is further than the average person… this additional distance causes additional pressure to his arteries in his neck as does the pressure of his own shoulder shoving into the side of his neck.  The cops continue to put even MORE pressure on him at this point.  Why?  Because Garner’s animalistic, and basic HUMAN response to suffocating, is to fight – as if your life depends on it (because it does) for air.  He is pushing up to relieve the pressure on his neck that is obstructing oxygenated blood from getting to his brain.  His pushing up, triggers a TRAINED response from the Police Officers to apply more force until he “stops resisting”.

That lethal cycle is a result of poor training – and must be corrected.  The response, or lack thereof by both the police and medical units to provide resuscitation immediately is nothing short of negligent.  On behalf of the Officers, it is negligence by training.  On behalf of the EMTs – just negligence.   The EMTs were rightfully stripped of their jobs.  (But let’s take a moment, what set of standards was being enforced upon them to have even begin to think that their response was appropriate in the first place?).

A lack of leadership, in the areas we need it most is killing our citizens and ruining the lives of many more.  Further it is dividing our people, our neighborhoods, and defies the cohesion any community needs to be productive and positive.  Hating individual cops, or slaying innocent cops as they sit in their car is not going to save or rectify anything.  Race baiting and claiming racial motivations is only going to distract from the point.

Leadership must be held accountable.  Training must be must be enforced to a higher standard.  I don’t mean just at the very top – I mean at the most integral levels… the middle managers: The Sergeants, Lieutenants and Captains; the heads of the academies, and those responsible for sustainment training.  But also – Parents.  Parents, Teachers and Families.  Just as Police Instructors are to be held accountable for setting, and Sergeants for maintaining, accountability for the acceptable performance standards – so should Parents, Teachers, and Families hold themselves accountable for the behavior of their children.  As those children respond only in a way that reflects what has been reinforced as an acceptable standard.

Military Leadership…wait, no… Followership.

Military LeadershipFollowership

Training Leaders

In the 9 years I have spent in the Marine Corps, if there was anything I’ve learned that the military, and Marine Corps specifically, produces aside from a healthy installment of arrogance…err – confidence, are leaders.  We boast about making boys and girls into men and women and men and women into leaders of Marines.  The Basic School’s “Basic Officer’s Course” that all Marine Officers attend to start their military careers as leaders is touted as “The World’s Best Leadership Course”.  Recently I’ve come to question if we have really been teaching “leadership”…or is it something else?

I recently read an article that was published over 6 years ago by the incredibly insightful, and near genius author, Malcolm Gladwell.  I came across the article while reading his book, “What the Dog Saw” (Know that once I am finished, it is headed straight for the Recommended Reading List).  The story of “Million-Dollar Murray” told of one Murray Barr, a former Marine that was a homeless alcoholic to say the least and to make an incredible understatement.  This article inspired the article of mine that you are now reading.  The article is available for full reading, at no charge HERE.  There were a couple of specific mentions in the article that made me feel like, while there were additional influencing circumstances… Murray’s outstanding qualities were credited to the Marine Corps.  But the Marine Corps’ influence on him may have also been his demise.

Murray’s story is tragic, and while I can’t come close to doing Mr. Gladwell’s article justice by making a summary, I would like to call attention to one of the closing paragraph’s that struck home with me, and I will never forget:

“You know, when he was monitored by the system, he did fabulously.  He would be on house arrest and he would get a job and he would save money and he would go to work every day, and he wouldn’t drink.  He would do all the things he was supposed to do.  There are some people who can be very successful members of society if someone monitors them.  Murray needed someone to be in charge of him.”

What really struck me, is when I read this out-loud to my wife, herself a veteran Marine-reservist of six years, her immediate reply as if she were finishing the missing sentence from Gladwell’s article was, “…He was a Marine.”  It troubled me that her immediate response was so terribly correct… and I’ve spent the last week going over it in my head.

I’d like to borrow some insight from someone much smarter than me, Mr. John C. Maxwell.  He seems to know a little bit about Leadership (Yes, that is sarcasm).  I often compare the abilities of a “leader” to his “5 Levels of Leadership” model (for which he has composed one of my recommended reading books about).  You can see the five-levels in graphical form there for visual reference as I mention them.

I don’t believe we, as in the Marine Corps, build leaders that are truly “Pinnacle” Leaders… Leaders that can develop other leaders that then can also replicate the development of more, leader-producing-leaders.  I believe we train to Positional and Performance leadership, and fewer military leaders than we’d like to admit actually see the levels of Reproduction and even fewer to the level of a Pinnacle-Leader.  We just rarely develop leader-producing-leaders.  However, we do exceptionally well at developing leaders who can replicate accountability.  Military leadership is much better at establishing strict followers of, well, followership than developers of leadership.

The missing link is that being a “leader” is easy when in middle management, which every “leader” in the military is at, to some varying degree.  You have subordinates that you have to lead towards a common goal, consistently trying to achieve and set higher standards.  But in the military, as in many large businesses and structures, a leader with subordinates is also subordinate to somebody.  And that “leader” is kept on track, constantly reminded of their responsibilities and to whom they are accounted to.  Under this structure, it makes it a bit easier to give the illusion that an organization is producing leaders.  But I believe it is more accurate to say the organization is producing followers, exceptional followers, that can perform when given someone or something to be held accountable to or for.

The problem with Murray Barr, as is the case with many Marines, and veterans of other services, is that they are not only taught, but rigidly enforced and have engrained the willingness to perform to exceptional standards when they have someone to hold them ACCOUNTABLE to those standards.  But what happens to those that were never taught how to hold THEMSELVES accountable to their own standards?  What happens when a team, squad, or platoon leader isn’t there to remind them that certain behavior is expected of them?  One may argue that any job will provide a manager or boss that will tell you what you are accountable for.  This is correct and any good boss or manager should be clearly communicating to their employees what is expected of them.  The difference is, in the military, you aren’t just told what you will be held accountable for from 9-5, but every aspect of your life is the responsibility of your senior leaders.  They hold you accountable for everything from the smell of your breath to the cleanliness of your rifle.

Junior Military members that never make it into a seasoned, experienced, and truly Leadership-bearing, leadership role never learn leadership beyond BEING accountable to someone and actually understand the how, why, and need for HOLDING oneself and others accountable.  Junior leaders and junior members of the military never really learn to wholly understand the need for accountability and development for the sake of being able to make the right decision… or if I may quote myself, in order to, “Do what you’re supposed to do”.  This argument could be extrapolated into the problem with over regulating laws that take away the populations learning ability to decide what is right or wrong morally and ethically, versus “knowing” something is right or wrong because it is legal or illegal.  That is a debate for another place, and another blog.

Empowerment and Reivew

Hours before departing to Iraq.

“Empowerment” is another one of those key terms that business leaders like to refer to.  It is also used freely in military instruction when referring to influencing an organized group towards a common goal (leadership).  It is also one of those words that has a million caveats, what-ifs, how-tos, and no real black and white instruction to be read and understood.  As is every other article I’ve composed, I’m going to give my views and experiences on empowerment, and add what I feel is an important, and reinforcing supplement: Review and personal reflection.

Telling someone that you have the genuine confidence in them that they can achieve something is almost always a sure way to get results.  We learned that when we were told, “you can do it, I know it” the first time we balanced ourselves out on our bicycles without our training wheels.  I know I personally am more likely to achieve something I don’t think I could if someone else told me they thought I could, and then set me on course to do so.  Even more convincing is when I know I am being counted on to accomplish that task, or reach that goal.  Therein lies the difference between encouragement and empowerment.  You can encourage someone with confidence to achieve previously doubtful goals.  In order to empower someone, you must not only encourage, but place them in control of something that is being relied on by more than just that person’s desire for accomplishment.   They have to be given something that they know will be looked at as a product of their efforts, and then encouraged to “show us what you’ve got”.

There are two specific examples of my professional career where I felt the effects of empowerment as the subject who was empowered.  First, was when as a junior Corporal in the Marine Corps, I was placed in a billet well above my pay grade and assigned to those with 5+ more years of experience than I had at the time.  I was firing on all cylinders just to tread water at first.  A month into it, my Master Gunnery Sergeant, the highest ranking enlisted Marine in my trade had a talk with me.  He asked if I felt I need to have a Staff Non-Commissioned Officer assigned to my section (which rated 2 of them).  If I did, he would get one assigned.  But he then told me that he would be interested to see how I did in the role… and if I was up for the challenge, the “shop” was mine.  He said he didn’t expect me to be an expert to start, but expected me to do my best and he had confidence in me either way.  I asked for the chance.  The personal drive I had to be the absolute best at anything that pertained to the job I had or Marines I was leading was palpable.

The second example was while I was deployed to Iraq.  I was acting as a chief instructor for enhanced marksmanship.  My company Executive Officer (XO) and my  section Gunnery Sergeant (direct boss) said I was responsible for running a 2 day range, and that I would be instructing to subordinates, peers and senior ranked Marines that had not been introduced to the Enhanced Marksmanship Program.  I felt their confidence in me, and there was nothing I was afraid of more than making the XO or Gunnery Sergeant look bad by giving me the chance.  I had to prove they made the right decision.

I later was told by the XO that some of the senior Marines from the range I instructed approached him directly to mention their appreciation for the range and quality of instruction.  I was floored!  Then I was surprised… The XO sat me down with a video recording of the range and all the informal lectures I gave as a part of the shooting package.  He told me I received a lot of compliments, but, he wanted me to see what they thought was good.  He also wanted me to see myself, and see what I thought I could do better.  He provided his insight, but he gave me the chance to review myself.  I didn’t comprehend what he was doing at the time beyond face value… but I was able to reflect, and what he did was HUGE!  I was motivated with empowerment, and then held accountable for my choices, good or bad, and encouraged to do it all over again!  They told me they had confidence in me, that I was allowed and EXPECTED to learn at full speed, and that no matter how well I thought I ever did at anything, it could always be improved.

I never got to thank any of them for those lessons… but if they read this, they know who they are.

Master Guns, XO, Gunny,

Thank You.