More On Buzz Words & Bumper Stickers

By now any Marines affiliated with me know I have issues with buzzwords. Certain words and phrases sound so good they are sometimes referred to as bumper stickers. They might look great on your car but do little to improve its performance.

We’ve heard all the buzz words before, so much so their meaning has become diluted and in some cases have become to mean the opposite of their original definition.

When I was a sergeant, my Gunny used to run around addressing us as “motivator, dedicators.” It was inane. “Good morning motivator, dedicator! Ooh-rah!” He used it so much we soon began to refer to him as the “motivator, defecator.” We hatorated on him. Though he used the words “motivate” and “dedicate,” he inspired neither. His overuse of the words made them what we like to call a bumper sticker. It may look cool on your car but does little to increase its performance.

As we’ve been conducting our promotion panels over the past year, young leaders want to assure us they intend to “motivate” their fellow Marines and other leadership buzz words. I suspect they are saying things like this because they think it’s what the panel wants to hear. Some of you may have heard that false motivation is better than none. This is a lie from the pit of hell. What we’d like to hear is some original thought on the part of our up and coming NCOs.

In that vein let me encourage all of you to set aside the word “motivate” and embrace “enthusiasm” instead. Not only is it an actual Leadership Trait, it doesn’t make me want to throw up in my mouth when I hear it.

Enthusiasm: strong excitement about something, a strong feeling of active interest in something that you like or enjoy, something causing a feeling of excitement and active interest.

The Marine Corps defines enthusiasm as: a sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of your duties.

So let me encourage you to study enthusiasm vice motivation. Develop it in yourself and consider ways to cultivate it among your colleagues.

Semper Fidelis!

America’s SgtMaj

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    1. Absolutely spot-on! Some comments are classic; some are just irritating. Some of the best comments I’ve ever heard were classics of understatement, which still make me smile when I think of them.

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