Protect what you’ve earned, maintain readiness

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Lt. Col. Gregory A. Messel (Courtesy photo)

During my recent assignment at United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., I would walk by Marine Corps Forces Central Command Headquarters and admire the signs posted around their campus.

The clear, unambiguous signs displaying the message “Protect What You Earned,” were strategically placed, which I presumed to be on the same basis as our Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do.

My impression was this meant each individual has an obligation to lead by example and protect their good character. To me, “Protect What You Earned” is a method to form and protect military ideals.

When I finally looked up the basis for this motto, I discovered a campaign designed to decrease alcohol-related incidents; in turn, mitigating negative choices that decrease readiness and have a negative impact on the Marine, their family and the community. It was coined to start conversations between Marines and Sailors to promote the development of peer support systems and responsible decision making processes. The correlation is that one needs to be vigilant and protect military ideals.

The military way is a long, hard road and asks extraordinary requirements of every individual. Military ideals have the intensely practical end of strengthening individuals for the better discharge of the duties which devolve upon them during daily affairs. In reading the lives of great people, I found a general theme that self-discipline came first. The Greek word for self-control comes from a root word meaning to grip or take hold of. This word describes people who are willing to get a grip on their lives and take control of areas that will bring them success or failure. Discipline is the standard of personal behavior, work requirement, courtesy, appearance and ethical conduct which enables peak performance.

A few easy steps to develop self-discipline:
• List five areas in your life that lack discipline.
• Place them in order of your priority for conquering them.
• Take them on, one at a time.
• Spend 15 minutes each morning assessing the focus area
• Take five minutes in the evening to evaluate your progress
• Celebrate your successes to push toward even greater achievements

Remember, the path to your goals is naturally riddled with mistakes, unforeseen circumstances and miscalculated decisions. This is a natural part of life. Nobody is perfect and everybody will make mistakes. This is part of being human; we are not immune to error and we are bound to get hurt and hurt others. We have learned to cope and handle ourselves with reserve and grace that allows for a better experience when external factors can be harsh.

With great achievements comes discernment to protect what you’ve earned.