4 Life Principles I Learned as a US Marine

blog image titleI’m celebrating a birthday today—the 240th birthday of the US Marine Corps. Yes, the Marine Corps really is one year older than the United States. Today is also an anniversary of sorts for me. On Nov. 10, 1977, I was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps.

I never realized how much I learned about life by being a Marine until one day when I actually stopped and examined my life. The principles the Corps taught me are as effective for civilian life as they were for military life. Those principles can be applied to life in general, our lives as writers, and our spiritual lives, too.

Principle #1: Teamwork

A cadence we learned in boot camp used a variation of the John Donne quote (a 16th century clergyman) “No man is an island.”

From our first day to our last, our drill instructors taught us that Marines function as a team. What we accomplish we accomplish together, not as individuals.

Debra L. Butterfield, Marine

Me in my Marine Corps summer uniform, umpteen years ago.

How does this apply to life in general?

Whether we want to admit it or not, we all rely on others. Someone else builds the home we live in; farmers and ranchers raise the food we eat; someone builds the businesses that provide the paycheck we work for; doctors work to keep us healthy, and on down the line.

There may be a few hermits who live solely on their own merit, but overall, to survive today, we must depend on a network of people to help us live the life we want. By thinking of these people as part of our team, we gain a new perspective for who they are and what they do to make our lives better.

How does this apply to my life as a writer?

While writing is usually a solitary action, getting our story published takes a team effort. The publishing team is much more of a cohesive unit than the community network I mentioned above. The traditional publishing team consists of agent (often, but not always), publisher, editor, designer, printer, distributor.

Even if you independently publish, you still need a printer, distributor, and possibly a graphic designer to design the cover of your book.

Can our physical body function without the brain? Without our heart? No. Can we function without an arm or a leg? Yes. But our functions are impaired!

Some members of the publishing team may seem unneeded, but without them, the final product is less than the best. You and the publishing group are a team working together—at least you should be—toward the same goal: getting your book published and sold to the public.

How does teamwork apply to our spiritual lives?

What example of teamwork does God give us? The Bible is replete with them: Adam and Eve, Moses and Aaron, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and the disciples.

Our best example is God himself. “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness” (Genesis 1:26, emphasis added). It wasn’t “let me make man in my image.” God is triune—God the Father, Jesus the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three in one, working to complete God’s will for His creation.

When we accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and ask Him to be a part of our lives, God comes to dwell in us (see John 14:23, NKJV). God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are our teammates, and He promises never to leave us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5).

God is the most vital member of my team—and so much more. He is my Lord and Savior, not a magic genie who grants my every wish. But He is there to help me! I don’t want to imagine where I might be in life right now if I hadn’t had God to help get me through all the challenges I’ve had to face.

Marine Corps League color guard.

TEAMWORK – Marine Corps League members carry the colors in a local parade. That’s me carrying the American flag.

When we apply the principle of teamwork to every aspect of our lives, we can gain a new perspective toward the people in our lives. It’s no longer “me against the world,” but “together we can do this.”

What perspective do you have toward publishers? How has this idea of teamwork changed the way you think?

In my next Tuesday writing tip, I’ll discuss Principle #2: Physical Fitness

Happy Birthday, Marines, and Semper Fi!

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