Dear Brendan,

The AM Stronghold Team is venturing into the formal arena of coaching, mentoring and training.  With that said, our left and right lateral limits are far and wide, to best address the needs of a diverse target base that crosses both the private and public sectors. 

I would like to kick this conversation off by first circling back to the first 20 letters, which laid a strong foundation for us to build on.  Four of the key building blocks were Commitment – Training – Communication – Leadership.

You can review these letters– sometimes referred to as the “AM STRONGHOLD Foundation Series”– at the following link.

There is a best-selling book by Stephen Covey called, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.  Many managers in business swear by this book.  I recommend you take a look at it, as it’s a good read and may be value added to you. 

But first, a quick re-cap. I began my journey as a U.S. Marine Infantry NCO and was later recruited by a Govt. agency within the Intelligence Community.  As you know I like to draw upon some of my past experiences from the USMC, Intelligence Community and other DoD organizations such as special mission units.  So to piggyback off of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, I’ll start to cover down on habits that good Marines have and there are a few more than seven that make the so-called “The Few, The Proud, The Marines.” effective.  Management expert Peter Drucker said, “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”  Truly good Marines are both efficient and effective.  I believe the USMC’s illustrious history proves this very point. 

The U.S. Marine Corps has 14 Leadership Traits.  I believe many, if not all, of these directly or indirectly apply to each and every one of us as men.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Marine or civilian, a businessman or family man, if you are young or old; these leadership traits help all men be better men across the board.  I’m not going to dive into these 14 Leadership Traits here and now.  However I will list them for you and encourage you do to your own research into each of them.  Ask yourself some hard questions.  Ask what do these leadership traits mean to you? Ask how they apply to you as a man, husband, father, son, friend, and as a leader.  Ask yourself if you embody these traits in your everyday life.  Oh, and like just about everything in the military world, you know there is an acronym for this. 
















Please know that with the above said and what will follow, we here at AM STRONGHOLD are positioned to bring tailored coaching, mentoring, training and an overall message of virtuous masculinity  to your family, business, church or team in a manner that is designed to meet your needs and requirements.

Okay team here we go.  I’m going to lay down 15 habits and they are for you to pick up and continue to build upon to be better each and every day.  Throw these in your toolbox. 

1.) Highly effective Men do the “Must-Dos” first.

Men know that in life there are “must-dos”, “should-dos” and “like-to-dos.”  Men who want to be effective do them in that order.  People who procrastinate on the things that must be done, preferring the fun like-to-dos, rarely get around to them in a timely manner.  Thus, they are never effective.

2.) Highly effective Men look out for the welfare of their family/team/co-workers.

Two time tested Marine principles of leadership are “know your Marines/teammates/subordinates and look after their welfare” and “develop/train/mentor/coach your Marines/teammates/subordinates.”  These two concepts are among the most violated principles I’ve noticed in the civilian worlds of politics/Govt and business/private sector, and why Marine veterans are effective in those arenas as well – because they build strong, productive and committed teams.  Too often civilian leaders are the “big hog at the trough,” first in line for pay raises, bonuses, perks and other benefits.  This leaves the followers, those who do the work, feeling resentful and of marginal value; hence, they offer a low commitment to the organization’s mission, which suffers as a result.

*Please note I’ve only laid down two on you so far and you can see a trend developing that connects directly to our four key building blocks. 


3.) Highly effective Men take care of their gear.

For a Marine Infantryman its starts with his rifle, of course, but effective men take care through preventive maintenance and continuous care of everything from personal gear, car, home, relationships, etc.  All else being equal, the team/family with gear in good shape is going to outperform one that is negligent or careless in this area.  And this translates to winning and losing on the battlefield of life; to black and white survival in the uncertain world we live in today.  As you can see this all relates no matter if it’s in the military or business world.  Any employees who take the “Hey, it’s not my stuff” attitude quickly finds their team/business is outperformed by other teams/businesses whose employees treat their equipment/gear as if they had paid for it themselves.  Isn’t it interesting how people tend to value things they pay for..?  The former type of individual also can’t seem to figure out why they are unemployed.  Ownership is pride and a team/force multiplier.

4.) Highly effective Men stay calm under pressure.

Calmness and being steady under pressure, even in the face of life-threatening danger, is a learned behavior and a vital survival skill/tool to have acquired in life.  Nothing makes a leader more effective than staying calm and keeping a level head, responding appropriately to the situation and doing what needs to be done amidst chaos or the fog of war.  This habit makes Marines/Men, both in the military and civilian world, the go-to guys.  As one of my AM STRONGHOLD teammates would say, “You are pure gold”.  And you will be value added to any/any organization in the public or private sectors.  Period!

5.) Highly effective Men stay organized.

Being organized is key to being effective.  I like to say, surgical precision.  Everyone knowing his or her role and where every part/piece of this puzzle he or she is responsible for is, and where it goes and when.  The team/organization will be far more effective.

6.) Highly effective Men keep themselves in fighting shape.

Yes, our society being what it is, even some Marine veterans carry too much unhealthy weight.  It’s rare to see an obese Marine, however it is all too common to see obesity in our society as a whole/general population.  Regardless of status, Marines/Men know physiological and psychological fitness go hand in hand.  Discipline is a critical habit to effective fitness.  Remember fitness of mind and body.  You want and need to be strong mentally and physically.

7.) Highly effective Men help their fellow man every chance they get.

It’s part of teamwork and team building.  Marines/Men take care of their own.  As the saying goes, “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” even after Marines hang up their uniforms, they extend their hands to help non-Marines too.  Hardly a week goes by that we here at AM don’t read of our fellow Marines/SOF operators going out of their way to help someone, whether it’s roadside aid or stopping a crime.  This habit, a trait called initiative, makes the team much stronger than whatever the team faces. 

You may have noticed, “initiative” is one of the above listed 14 Leadership Traits.

8.) Highly effective Men lead from the front.

This doesn’t mean the officer in charge or NCOIC is the first through the door clearing a building instead of providing overall command and control.  It does mean leaders are with their Marines/teammates, setting the example, sharing the hardships and dangers, not micromanaging from afar in a safe area.  Again, it carries over to the civilian world where Marines/Men never say, “Not my job,” but instead roll up their sleeves and pitch in with everybody to accomplish the mission or task at hand. 

9.) Highly effective Men always exercise the moral courage to do what is right for the right reasons.

Mark Twain wrote, “It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”  An astute observer of human nature, it’s no surprise that Twain’s insight is just as true today, and it is sadly often true among top leaders who too often appear to think of careers and individual benefits over the good of the country or the team/organization.  There may not be a ribbon/medal for moral courage, but moral courage is represented by every decoration a Marine wears.  Moral courage is as essential to military and civilian success as physical courage.  Any team/family/organization where moral courage is not demonstrated encourages and recognized rots from the inside out and always is ineffective.

10.) Highly effective Men are not spectators; they make things happen.

There are several great quotes that drive this point home.  “Some people make things happen.  Some people watch things happen.  And then there are those who wonder, what the hell just happened?”  Effective Marines/Men always fall into the first category; they don’t sit around whining or complaining, “Someone should do something!”  Marines/Men know that another saying also is true:  “Not taking action is also a decision, often the worst decision.”  You cannot be effective if you don’t get things done.  And you don’t get things done unless you make things happen.  Hey, more often than not, forgiveness is easier than permission, especially if acting for the right reason to do the right thing. 

“Critics are men who sit and watch a battle from a high place and come down to shoot the survivors.”  Don’t be that guy!

11.) Highly effective Men keep themselves physically and morally squared away.

Effective Marines/Men keep their gear, uniforms/clothing and consciences uncluttered and in serviceable condition at all times.  This makes them good-to-go in any situation and able to command respect from other Marines/Men, allies, peers. Believe me when I say others around you are paying attention to your appearance as they are surely watching, looking, listening to what you say and do as well. 

12.) Highly effective Men constantly seek self-improvement.

Effective Marines/Men, through training and education, strive for perfection.  They know self-improvement makes for a more effective individual and teammate, in turn, a more effective family/team/organization.  Fail to improve then expect to fail.  And that is one “F” word we here at AM STRONGHOLD never want to hear.  We can handle any other 4-letter words; however let’s work on removing that one from our vocabulary and thoughts. 

13.) Highly effective Men always have a plan, a backup plan and a communications plan – then attack/execute.

Effective Marines/Men, by ethos and nature, take charge and always have a plan.  They already have formulated that plan and in the back of their minds are shaping Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t work, and it often does not.  It’s simply Murphy’s Law.  Effective Marines/Men adapt and keep moving forward.  Meanwhile, they communicate the plan to everyone who needs to know it because if people don’t know the plan, effectiveness suffers. 

14.) Highly effective Men never accept mediocrity.

In the USMC enlisted recruits and officer candidates have the acceptance/mindset of mediocrity knocked out of them during training.  “Mediocrity” is a synonym for “ineffective” and simply put neither is allowed in the Marine lexicon nor psyche.  The mediocre military organization, business or sports team always will lose to the superior one – the more effective one.  We have talked about having a standard in some of our past posts and there is a reason for that.  You must hold to a standard.  Do not lower the standard.  Period.

15.) Highly effective Marines/Men leave no doubt in the minds of others that they are Men/Leaders.

Time after time, we/Marines have heard superior performance explained with, “Well, they’re a Marine, you know.” A Marine was at an Army post for some joint training, his unit was engaging an Army unit during this joint training exercise.  While at the PX, a Marine approached him and said, Hey, Marine where’d you get that shirt?  Since it wasn’t a USMC shirt, he asked, how did he know he was a Marine?  By your bearing, the other Marine replied.  Effective Marines/Authentic Men project, through appearance, bearing, pride, and the confidence that they are Marines/Authentic Men.

The AM Team knows that Men reading this piece, regardless of their military service, civilian career, status, etc. may already practice most, if not all of these habits.  But thinking about them may help you and other men strengthen these habits of effective men.  And we also encourage you to think of other effective habits that we may not have cited.  Please contact us with your thoughts and feedback.  This is how we all get better and improve.

It is one of the AM Team’s goals to help us all be better men and to improve each and everyday of our lives.  To do so not for ourselves but for our wives, children, parents, friends, teammates, organizations and communities. 

Together there is nothing/nothing we cannot do or accomplish.

The AM Team is able to custom tailor our services to meet your individual, family, team, business, or other group/organizational needs/requirements.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” 

Brother to Brother, Shield-to-Shield, Soul-to-Soul, Iron-to-Iron.


 Always Faithful – Always Forward,


For more information or to arrange consulting/advising or speaking engagements, contact us directly: