Newest training asset aboard MCAS Miramar opens

By: Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns

Be prepared. Okay, we have heard this over and over and over again. But, what should you be prepared for?

The first step to success is to plan ahead. Preparation is simple but it does take time and effort. (Ermey 44). To be squared away is to be prepared. But again, what should you be prepared for? It depends on your plan. Whenever I counsel someone who has just lost a job or is getting ready to look for a new job I tell them to take a couple of days off and think about their outcome and to prepare for the journey. Even if it is just a couple of days, take that time. You need to prepare a resume, update your LinkedIn profile, brush up on your interview skills and maybe do some company research, and get together a plan of action for how you will approach the job search.

Ermey prepares for his movie roles by copying his lines from the script several times until he can copy them from memory  (Ermey 44–45). From the director to every member of the crew, not knowing your lines will immediately buy you duffle bag of disdain and a canteen full of no-respect. As as technical advisor on some of his films, Ermey would never bring up a problem without being able to answer the director’s natural question “what the hell can we do about it?” (Ermey 41). Eventually, his preparation landed him the role of Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann in Full Metal Jacket.

There is also a very practical side of preparation. I sometimes get a kick out of watching the reality show Doomsday Preppers. Yea, I think some of it goes a little overboard. If I have to live in a metal tube in the ground for the next ten years, no thanks – I’ll take the radiation dose, Zombie apocalypse, asteroid strike or whatever instead. But, everyone needs a hobby and if yours is waiting for the end of the world, who am I to judge (uh, there’s an irony in there someplace). Besides, my family won’t last much past the time the battery charge on my iPad runs out.

But, I do think a little preparation is everyone’s civil responsibility.  At a minimum every house should have extra lights, batteries, firestarters, matches, portable stoves in fuel, firewood, food that is relatively nonperishable, the Gunny suggests meals-ready-to-eat, rain gear, firearms, knives, hatchets and first aid kits (Ermey 47). This is not going overboard, it’s being prepared.

All of this is available at your local hardware store (except maybe for the guns) but most of these items will be in high demand yet not available after the disaster strikes. FEMA also publishes some excellent materials on preparing for disasters that can occur in your area. Go to

I know that diet and exercise are common themes throughout the 50 books, but the Gunny has some interesting perspectives to share.

  • Exercise alone cannot wipe out a bad diet (Ermey 57). I am living proof. Although I have done the P90X workouts for many years I have never taken the “after” shots. Mainly because my body never looked like what the other after shots look like. But, in all those years I never followed the diet plan. Not really for lack of effort but just for lack of practical application. I don’t have a personal chef, and it cost a lot of money to eat healthy. Plus, those diets don’t really work too well when you travel a lot. I just finished doing Slimgenix (well, I guess I’m on the maintenance phase now), and I’m doing the new P90X3 program. Within just a few days I am already seeing results of the exercise. Slimgenix got my weight under control and my eating habits straightened out and now I’m not asking exercise to do all of the work. You have to eat right too.
  • There is really no excuse to be a fat body. Okay, you have to get used to how the Gunny talks – forget political correctness, he gives it to you straightforward. I understand that there are some people that have health situations that prevent them from working-out the way they would like, and do not have the financial resources to eat healthy. And let’s face it it costs money to eat healthy. But understand that you do not have to look like a professional athlete and you should never try to look like the airbrushed celebrities on the magazine covers. One of my wife’s cousins got into really good shape simply by having only one plate of food instead of extra helpings. He stopped overeating and he still looks great. And he is not really depriving himself.
  • Being out of shape, particularly when you’re young can handicap you more than the lack of physical energy that being overweight causes. “You won’t look capable, you won’t look like an achiever; being fat makes you look lazy and listless,” (again, no PC filter from the Gunny) (Ermey 60). First impressions will be against you.

The Gunny recommends two workouts programs: The Marine Corps Daily 16 Workouts: Marine Fitness for the Civilian Athlete, and Be Fit As A Marine, which focusses on Isometrics. Personally I’m a huge fan of P90X and its offshoots. While they warn you it is extreme they show you so many ways to dial it down (and to dial it up) I can’t imagine that program won’t work for most people.

“Because employers look at someone who looks fit and squared away and think, “now there someone with self-discipline, self-respect, they work ethic, who’s got it together. That’s the sort of person we want on our team.” (Ermey 60).

A lot of times we talk about your interpersonal relationships, and it may be surprising coming from a Marine (not sure why, but whatever), but Gunny gives some excellent advice on your friends and your most important interpersonal relationship – your spouse. I personally consider this to be the most important decision if you’re looking for success in life.

Ever have your parents tell you that they don’t like one of your friends? Wonder why? If you’re a parent, you already know, but if you haven’t figure it out yet, it’s because your folks know that you have a good chance of becoming like the people you hang out with. One of the quickest ways to establish a good reputation is to do it first and talk about it later (Ermey 24). Sometimes when you share your goals with your buddies they will try to hold you back often for fear of losing you themselves. I am a little bit more gentle in my goalsetting workshops when I play the song “Cruel to be kind,” and explain to my students that they might have to drop some of their lifelong but toxic friends. Ermey puts it straightforward: don’t let them trip you up. You got things to do and places to go. Dump the losers! Just get the hell away from ’em! (Ermey 24).

Taking command of your life and getting squared away includes the big decision to get married. (Ermey 25). In fact, if it is done right it can actually be one of the best ways to get squared away. However, this will only work out if you are both established in your personalities, education and employment goals (Ermey 25). Choosing your life partner is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Think about the people that traveled across the country in covered wagons back in the Old West. They thought carefully about who they would take on that journey as they may have to travel with them for several years. Consider carefully who you will take on a journey for the rest of your life. 

Being prepared means being prepared to be in an adult relationship. If you’re not ready, don’t go there yet. Grow up a bit, learn about yourself and what you like first. Get yourself in order. And if you’re coming out of a relationship, spend some time before jumping into the next one. Get a friend-with-benefit if that’s your choice, but don’t get married again until you are prepared for the commitment that comes with it.

Ermey, Lee, and Lamar Underwood. Gunny’s Rules: How to Get Squared Away like a Marine.Washington, DC: Regenery, 2013. Print.

Photo courtesy USMC: By: Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns


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