USMC OCS question on getting dropped

slopmaster

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Nov 17, 2017
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34
It looks like I'll be pretty much set to attend PLC Sophomores this summer. I do think that I will be physically ready (sub 21 minute 3 mile run, 25 pull ups, and 100+ crunches by June/July), academically there shouldn't be any issues either, and I doubt I'd do anything that would even result in the slightest risk of me receiving serious disciplinary action (as in skipping events or just being a shit bag to others). However, I am a bit worried when it comes down to instructors dropping candidates for not displaying good leadership skills and for maybe not having the character to succeed as a Marine Corps officer. What I mean by this is that to this day, I'm a pretty timid person who is not a good leader. I also feel as if I act kind of retarded when it comes to daily tasks. For example, it's like those kids who are good students but aren't very skilled in the "real world" (I can cook, laundry, drive, clean the house, etc. I mean not skilled more so in social settings.). For example, I was in Army ROTC for a semester and when we were doing stretches and various exercises at the same pace, I would always mess up and fall out of rhythm or I'd end up doing a slight variation of what we were supposed to be doing (on accident). I'm also a slow learner (I need to sit down on my own to understand basically anything), so I was thinking of reading up on, for example, orienteering and doing some rifle drills (rifle drills with marching is something I'd definitely mess up) before shipping out.

I will obviously give it my all and when working out, I can push myself to an extreme rate. However, I just don't want to get dropped for the above reasons. I am wondering if I'm just being paranoid and if you men any tips if I'm not?
 

Devildoc

Verified Military
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Nov 3, 2015
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4,844
Location
Durham, NC
You do you. Some great leaders have been full-on introverts; leadership is exclusive of shyness or being outgoing. This is not to say timid is never good. Timidity to me means indecisive. The world is full of dead squirrels who couldn't make a decision.

Bottom line: everyone at PLC/OCS starts in the crawls phase. Be yourself, excel at everything, put out 100%, own your space. If you are smart enough to get in you will be smart enough to get out.
 

DozerB

Logistics
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Joined
Nov 18, 2014
Messages
96
It looks like I'll be pretty much set to attend PLC Sophomores this summer. I do think that I will be physically ready (sub 21 minute 3 mile run, 25 pull ups, and 100+ crunches by June/July), academically there shouldn't be any issues either, and I doubt I'd do anything that would even result in the slightest risk of me receiving serious disciplinary action (as in skipping events or just being a shit bag to others). However, I am a bit worried when it comes down to instructors dropping candidates for not displaying good leadership skills and for maybe not having the character to succeed as a Marine Corps officer. What I mean by this is that to this day, I'm a pretty timid person who is not a good leader. I also feel as if I act kind of retarded when it comes to daily tasks. For example, it's like those kids who are good students but aren't very skilled in the "real world" (I can cook, laundry, drive, clean the house, etc. I mean not skilled more so in social settings.). For example, I was in Army ROTC for a semester and when we were doing stretches and various exercises at the same pace, I would always mess up and fall out of rhythm or I'd end up doing a slight variation of what we were supposed to be doing (on accident). I'm also a slow learner (I need to sit down on my own to understand basically anything), so I was thinking of reading up on, for example, orienteering and doing some rifle drills (rifle drills with marching is something I'd definitely mess up) before shipping out.

I will obviously give it my all and when working out, I can push myself to an extreme rate. However, I just don't want to get dropped for the above reasons. I am wondering if I'm just being paranoid and if you men any tips if I'm not?
Man, I'd say first of all, good on you for being self-aware of your shortcomings. That's a good sign. I think the biggest piece of leadership in this regard is just humility. Admitting your faults is a very good first step. Obviously, you won't be laughing out loud at your flaws during OCS, but that doesn't mean you can't be humble. If you suck at something, ask the guys who are stellar at that thing for some help. The guys who get dropped for leadership failures are not usually incapable of being leaders, they are just widely hated by their peers because they're selfish and refuse to learn/adapt. You'll be surprised by some of these dudes' bad attitudes. It was baffling to me.

But all of us had things we sucked at ("leadership drop" is really a catch-all for "this guy is not a good fit"), but if you're a good dude (this applies to almost any military school) and seek out the right answer, you will earn the respect of your peers. The majority of OCS is just sucking it up and then repeating the exact formula as instructed (this applies to everything from PT to Squad Patrols and leadership evaluations). If you can't remember it, write it down and reference it when you need to use it. As an instructor/evaluator, I say that's just common sense, but some kids feel the need to impress their evaluators by memorizing everything. They're not looking for General Patton out there in the treeline; they're looking for an individual with the aptitude and the will to LEARN and someone who can give direction and orders to his peers without making his entire team hate him. When you're in leadership positions, they will basically tell you that you need to be screaming and jumping up and down like your Drill Instructors are. I didn't do that, because I've never seen an Officer do that a single time in my life. They might knock you on your "Company Gunnery Sergeant" Evaluation for "motivation,", but when it comes time to discuss you with the higher-ups, they will say "I think he would make a good officer." Not the case for some of the motarded Citadel grads who took it as their 3-hour chance to be a Drill Instructor with a bunch of kids who would later be writing their peer evaluations. Those dudes get beat up (or worse, ignored) after lights out. Just keep your cool, man. You will have a lot more fluidity and flexibility at TBS, but by then, you'll also have some more confidence and the wiggle room to use your strengths in a meaningful way to help your platoon, as opposed to just reciting and repeating doctrine. If you don't know something, ask. Do it with correct customs and courtesies OCS style, but ask.

I'd say the fact that you're worried about this is good, it means you are self-aware and humble. But I'd also offer that plenty of guys get through OCS with odd, weird, less-than-extroverted personalities and succeed just fine in the Corps. It's a common misconception that everyone in positions of leadership looks like an NFL player with the public speaking abilities of Winston Churchill. Remember when you were a freshman in high school and the seniors seemed like they were 30-year old gods to you? And then you became a senior and you still felt like a child? The same phenomenon occurs at OCS. Right now, it is "the mountain" that you have to face, and don't get me wrong, it's a formidable one. But about 5 seconds after check-in, you'll realize that all of your peers are worried about the exact same things as you, and they all feel like they are the only inadequate ones while everyone else is an All-American Football Player/4.0 Student/President of the coolest Fraternity on campus at their universities. For lack of a better term, you will be overwhelmed with a sense of how "normal" your fellow candidates are, just like you.

I'm a completely different person today than I was at OCS in 2012. If you can hack it physically, academically, and be a team player with the men around you, I don't think you have much to worry about. "Leadership" as defined in Hollywood movies and Instagram quotes is not the only definition. I know a lot of leaders who are quiet, who have to ask multiple questions where other people can instantly grasp a concept, and to be honest, it earns them the respect of their guys. Nobody likes a know-it-all.

If you end up commissioning, it will be about 11 seconds before you find yourself in a meeting where a senior officer drops an acronym you're not familiar with, and nobody asks what it means. And you'll find out later that everyone who was nodding and "yes sir"-ing also has no idea what it means. ASK. BE A REAL HUMAN BEING, and you'll be fine. Too often, we get shiny things on our collars and think our men need us to be robots. No, what they need is a real human being who has flaws, who admits when he struggles conceptualizing something, and works tirelessly to gain competence in that area. Your job is not to be the technical expert, but if you need technical information, you should ask the guy whose job IS to be the technical expert. That's why our MOS schools involve relatively few technical manuals but a lot of broad, overarching leadership concepts.

Good luck dude, rooting for you. The Marine Corps needs more self-aware junior officers.
 

Cookie_

SOF Support
Joined
Dec 19, 2017
Messages
954
I'll let you in on a secret very few people know until they get in the military.

The reason the military has an abundance good leaders?
The military MAKES good leaders.

There is no such thing as a "born leader", despite what pop culture might tell you. Those types of guys you're probably comparing yourself to?
They had practice through sports, scouts, work, and/or any thing else that exposed them to being "in charge".

As @DozerB said (paraphrasing), a leader is:

an individual with the aptitude and the will to LEARN and someone who can give direction and orders
You don't need to be screaming and yelling at all, that's what your eventual NCOs are for; you just need to be the guy who can make the decisions and give the orders.
 

slopmaster

Unverified
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
34
Man, I'd say first of all, good on you for being self-aware of your shortcomings. That's a good sign. I think the biggest piece of leadership in this regard is just humility. Admitting your faults is a very good first step. Obviously, you won't be laughing out loud at your flaws during OCS, but that doesn't mean you can't be humble. If you suck at something, ask the guys who are stellar at that thing for some help. The guys who get dropped for leadership failures are not usually incapable of being leaders, they are just widely hated by their peers because they're selfish and refuse to learn/adapt. You'll be surprised by some of these dudes' bad attitudes. It was baffling to me.

But all of us had things we sucked at ("leadership drop" is really a catch-all for "this guy is not a good fit"), but if you're a good dude (this applies to almost any military school) and seek out the right answer, you will earn the respect of your peers. The majority of OCS is just sucking it up and then repeating the exact formula as instructed (this applies to everything from PT to Squad Patrols and leadership evaluations). If you can't remember it, write it down and reference it when you need to use it. As an instructor/evaluator, I say that's just common sense, but some kids feel the need to impress their evaluators by memorizing everything. They're not looking for General Patton out there in the treeline; they're looking for an individual with the aptitude and the will to LEARN and someone who can give direction and orders to his peers without making his entire team hate him. When you're in leadership positions, they will basically tell you that you need to be screaming and jumping up and down like your Drill Instructors are. I didn't do that, because I've never seen an Officer do that a single time in my life. They might knock you on your "Company Gunnery Sergeant" Evaluation for "motivation,", but when it comes time to discuss you with the higher-ups, they will say "I think he would make a good officer." Not the case for some of the motarded Citadel grads who took it as their 3-hour chance to be a Drill Instructor with a bunch of kids who would later be writing their peer evaluations. Those dudes get beat up (or worse, ignored) after lights out. Just keep your cool, man. You will have a lot more fluidity and flexibility at TBS, but by then, you'll also have some more confidence and the wiggle room to use your strengths in a meaningful way to help your platoon, as opposed to just reciting and repeating doctrine. If you don't know something, ask. Do it with correct customs and courtesies OCS style, but ask.

I'd say the fact that you're worried about this is good, it means you are self-aware and humble. But I'd also offer that plenty of guys get through OCS with odd, weird, less-than-extroverted personalities and succeed just fine in the Corps. It's a common misconception that everyone in positions of leadership looks like an NFL player with the public speaking abilities of Winston Churchill. Remember when you were a freshman in high school and the seniors seemed like they were 30-year old gods to you? And then you became a senior and you still felt like a child? The same phenomenon occurs at OCS. Right now, it is "the mountain" that you have to face, and don't get me wrong, it's a formidable one. But about 5 seconds after check-in, you'll realize that all of your peers are worried about the exact same things as you, and they all feel like they are the only inadequate ones while everyone else is an All-American Football Player/4.0 Student/President of the coolest Fraternity on campus at their universities. For lack of a better term, you will be overwhelmed with a sense of how "normal" your fellow candidates are, just like you.

I'm a completely different person today than I was at OCS in 2012. If you can hack it physically, academically, and be a team player with the men around you, I don't think you have much to worry about. "Leadership" as defined in Hollywood movies and Instagram quotes is not the only definition. I know a lot of leaders who are quiet, who have to ask multiple questions where other people can instantly grasp a concept, and to be honest, it earns them the respect of their guys. Nobody likes a know-it-all.

If you end up commissioning, it will be about 11 seconds before you find yourself in a meeting where a senior officer drops an acronym you're not familiar with, and nobody asks what it means. And you'll find out later that everyone who was nodding and "yes sir"-ing also has no idea what it means. ASK. BE A REAL HUMAN BEING, and you'll be fine. Too often, we get shiny things on our collars and think our men need us to be robots. No, what they need is a real human being who has flaws, who admits when he struggles conceptualizing something, and works tirelessly to gain competence in that area. Your job is not to be the technical expert, but if you need technical information, you should ask the guy whose job IS to be the technical expert. That's why our MOS schools involve relatively few technical manuals but a lot of broad, overarching leadership concepts.

Good luck dude, rooting for you. The Marine Corps needs more self-aware junior officers.
Wow; that's a lot of great advice and insight. Thank you for taking the time to write that out sir. I will definitely keep all of this information in mind as I head into PLC.
 

slopmaster

Unverified
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
34
I'll let you in on a secret very few people know until they get in the military.

The reason the military has an abundance good leaders?
The military MAKES good leaders.

There is no such thing as a "born leader", despite what pop culture might tell you. Those types of guys you're probably comparing yourself to?
They had practice through sports, scouts, work, and/or any thing else that exposed them to being "in charge".

As @DozerB said (paraphrasing), a leader is:



You don't need to be screaming and yelling at all, that's what your eventual NCOs are for; you just need to be the guy who can make the decisions and give the orders.
Thank you for the information and insight.
 

slopmaster

Unverified
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
34
You do you. Some great leaders have been full-on introverts; leadership is exclusive of shyness or being outgoing. This is not to say timid is never good. Timidity to me means indecisive. The world is full of dead squirrels who couldn't make a decision.

Bottom line: everyone at PLC/OCS starts in the crawls phase. Be yourself, excel at everything, put out 100%, own your space. If you are smart enough to get in you will be smart enough to get out.
Thank you.
 

Gunz

Combined Action
Verified Military
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
7,177
Take everything one day at a time. Try not to over think it, don't play mind games with yourself, don't psych yourself out. As you surmount each step and your knowledge base increases, your confidence will grow.
 

Marauder06

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Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
10,507
Location
CONUS
The things you've identified are trainable. Keep your shortcomings in mind but don't overthink things. Take pieces of other peoples' leadership and mold it into your own. After a while it will become natural. Read about other great leaders and see where you can adopt some of the things that made them great.
 
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