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U.S. Marines Philosophy on Becoming a Champion

by Ron Kurtus (revised 27 May 2004)

The philosophy of the U.S. Marines states that character and excellence results in developing champions. They have been very successful in transforming young men and women into responsible, confident individuals and team members.

Questions you may have on this are:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Marines do a better job

The Marines can mold ordinary young people into effective leaders. The Marines seem to be doing a better job of teaching teenagers the right way to live than does the average American high school.

The Marines give Americans youth the self-confidence needed to make decisions while under the stress of battle, police action, or other engagement. Our society seems to have trouble transmitting healthy values to young people.

Set absolute standards

The Marines set some absolute standards for their people to follow:

Following these standards make a person better and proud of him- or herself.

Have a Fulfilling Life

Marine drill instructors transmitted the lesson taught centuries ago by an ancient Greek philosopher: "Don't pursue happiness; pursue excellence. Make a habit of that, and you can have a fulfilling life."

Another belief they instill is: "Knowledge is power. And power is victory! "

Being Pushed Hard

One thing the Marines do in basic training is to try to push the members harder than they've ever been pushed, and to make them go beyond their self-imposed limits.

Such experience during basic training creates a and esprit de corps or camaraderie among the platoon members. They subordinate their needs to those of the group, and all emerge with a stronger sense of self

The drill instructors tell their recruits, "Pain is good. Extreme pain is extremely good."


The Marines emphasized honor, courage and commitment. This is a powerful alternative to the looming this and distrust that seems so widespread among society. They also emphasize integrity.

Marine Corps discipline stresses brotherhood. It stresses that people of different backgrounds can learn to work together for a common cause.

The Marines approach to leadership is: "Concentrate on doing a single task is simply as you can, execute it flawlessly, take care of your people and go home." Those steps are an efficient way to run any organization.

Pursuit of Excellence

Young people want values but they are rightly suspicious of talk without action words are meaningless unless you live them, as well of all things that can motivate people. The pursuit of excellence is one of the most effective and one of the least used in our society.

The Marines believe that you can do anything if you have the right can-do attitude.


The training Marines receive not only prepares recruits for battle, but it also shapes them into self-reliant, hard-working and honorable members of a team. These are traits that should have been learned while growing up, but for some reason they have never been emphasized in the educational process.

Be proud of what you stand for

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


US Marine Corps - Official Website

Excellence Resources


(Notice: The School for Champions may earn commissions from book purchases)

Making the Corps by Thomas E. Ricks, Touchstone Books (1998) $13.00 - USMC basic training at Parris Island, SC, where drill instructors indoctrinate recruits into the culture of the "Few and the Proud"

One of Us: Officers of the Marines by Jack Ruppert, Praeger Publishers (2003) $49.95 - A look at the values, training and traditions of U.S. Marine officers

Top-rated books on Excellence

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