Regardless of what profession you are in or the level you are at no one is perfect and if you stay at something long enough you will fail some time. Some will fail bigger than others. Some will get back on the horse. Some won’t ever see the light of day.

Regardless if you’re a muti million dollar quarterback in the NFL or a mortar man that ends up with the base plate each time on the movement to contact  foot march like life you will have your highs and lows. What matter the most is what you do next after your failure.  You have to get back on the horse as it goes with the saying “when you get bucked off, you got to get back on”. You could mope around; hang your head think boohoo woe is me or you can man the “F” up and kick some ass. It takes heart, it takes courage.

In some professions, failure, screw ups, brain farts, whatever you want to call them can have different results. In some professions, it may not be a first down, in some professions people may die. Leaders are that. They lead. They aren’t afraid to screw up but they minimize their screw ups by being that, a leader and professional. If they do “punt one in the stands” screw up or fail, they man up to it, take responsibility for it, fall on their sword take their punishment like a man if it’s coming and soldier on….or Marine on.

There is nothing like failing, letting your team down or just simply dropping the ball when the stakes are high. No one is perfect. Did you hear me? No one is perfect and a zero mistake mentality is crap and unrealistic. People will make mistakes. The question is did they learn from them and more importantly, what did they do next?

That warriors “leader” is more likely gearing up an old fashion ass chewing aimed at you to make sure you know where and why you screwed up. Ass chewing’s can really humble a person. One time I was so frustrated at this Marine. I wanted to blow him in place about a mistake he routinely made over and over. However, I didn’t and for whatever reason I took a deep breath, pulled the lad aside and simply did the big brother, coach player talk with him. Everyone responds different to criticism. This doesn’t mean you baby “professionals” it means you as a leader need to know how to find out why they failed and mentor them back. If he failed, did you also fail as his mentor?


“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” – Abraham Lincoln

Failing sucks until good comes out of it. I had another Marine who had an “awe shit” and did something he shouldn’t have. It could have cost him his career in the military. However, after weighing through all the bullshit, did it warrant crushing him and his double digit years in the Corps? No, we hammered him and made it hurt in other ways and guess what? That warrior became a Sergeant Major one day and a great one from dorking an event up and learning from it. In my view he was over all a more experienced leader that learned from his mistakes because of the actions he conducted following his failure. More importantly he was a role model showing warriors what can happen if you rebound yourself and he could make that connection with younger warriors because he had been there himself.

You can really screw something up, think there is no hope and that you will never be able to recover. Then we get to see how much heart you really have because what happens next following that failure defines a man’s character. You can roll over and quit or you can take the more difficult path and recover. It’s not going to be a cake walk especially if your failure was a big one, but crazy as it seems  a long way down the road you may even look back at that failure and think it was the best thing that happened to you. You might even laugh about it one day. Not right after the failure….but maybe a ways down the road.

So you so just had a failure….no what are you going to do? Regardless if you think you can fix it or not….you’re right. It’s all up to you. I bet when you start getting yourself unassed there will be a couple “leaders” come from nowhere an help you. The good ones will.  Thankfully, I’m not the only one who thinks this.

So you so just had a failure, what you do next will define your character.


Time for a CGar!


  1. Very good post, though I think if you gave more detail on the failures (the Marine who repeatedly failed and the eventual Sergeant Major), rather than vague generalities, the post would be a little more effective. The greater detail would do more to cement each story in the reader’s mind and remind them of the effective way each problem was dealt with to produce better Marines.

  2. “but crazy as it seems a long way down the road you may even look back at that failure and think it was the best thing that happened to you.”
    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. More than one time in my nearly 7 decades…
    Thank you, Major, great post.

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