• April 30, 2014
  • 6

Things Your SgtMaj Hates: “I’m waiting on … “

There are an uncounted number of remarks that will cause my blood pressure to do terrible things. Some remarks more so than others, usually the ones that sound like excuses.

Any time a Marine is questioned on the status of a given product/mission, I always pay attention to how they respond. Their word choice can tell you more about what is really going on than the answer itself.

If they begin a sentence with: “I’m waiting on so-and-so to get back with me … “ or any variation thereof, I usually stop the conversation right away. I then proceed with a short burst of professional military education.

Before any period of instruction, gaining the attention of your audience is a must.

 Marines do not “wait on” anything. We go get things. We attack things. We take things. Contrary to popular belief “waiting” is not an action verb. Waiting doesn’t make things happen. Lions do not wait on gazelles to leap into their hungry jaws, they pursue prey. 

What “I’m waiting on … “ really means is “I’m not doing a dang thing about that.” It’s an answer that forces me to compel others into action. See the picture above. 

The opposite of waiting is something I read about once called initiative. It turns out this is also one of the 14 Marine Corps leadership traits. Imagine that.

Be a lion. Pursue your goal until it hangs limply in your fangs. Just don’t play with your food, ok?

Semper Fidelis!
America’s SgtMaj

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  1. Like you, “…waiting on…” is unacceptable. Others: “It’s not my job.” “I’m not gonna…” “…hope for…” “…trying to…” all make me see red in a heartbeat.

  2. (a) In re: waiting: gotta say, sometimes it depends on what you’re doing. For the realm with which I am most familiar, engineering involves a lot of waiting situations, since there isn’t a whole helluva lot you can accomplish without having certain other things accomplished first. (“Well, Sgt. Maj., um, I would *like* to work on the rest of the building, but the materials haven’t actually gotten here to build the foundation yet, so I’m kind of stuck until they do…”) As always, action != productivity. There can be productivity in a different direction, of course. (“Okay, so go sharpen your tomahawk, then!”)

    (b) But! Fear not. I have the perfect object to cradle lovingly in your arms while you are contemplating how best to respond to the above. BEHOLD:


    It is, quite possibly, the most perfect tool for a Marine. Buy a hundred and hand them out at the next morning formation!

    -Former LCpl SD

  3. Every Marine learns to hurry up and wait at boot camp. Then you get a doctorate course when you meet AMC.

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