Win. Or. Die. I learned those words on the first day of physical training at Parris Island, SC, over 30 years ago. We had to do a physical assessment so the Drill Instructors would have an idea just how out-of-shape the newest Marine Corps Recruits were. According to them, the Drill Instructors, there'd never been a sorrier bunch of weaklings allowed to step foot on the infamous yellow footprints. On that day, among a million other things, we were going to run one mile. Most of us had never run any further than it took to escape parents or a cop. Most of us knew that we could not run a mile. We found out that we damn sure could. We found out that the Drill Instructors not only expected us to do it, they were not going to accept anything less than success or death in the attempt. That "Win or Die" attitude in regards to accomplishing any mission (personal or professional) lasted through my entire time in uniform and is still going strong.
We started to learn that day one of the key reasons Marines were "different". From that point on every leader (eventually including me) expected nothing less than success no matter how hard the mission. The exception, as the saying went, was to die trying. It didn't matter what the mission was. It could be shining boots and brass brightly enough to read in the reflection, cleaning a weapon so that it would not support germs let alone rust, or clearing a hostile building.
We learned that Germany and Japan had something in common; Both tied for 2nd Place in WWII.
I call this attitude "Great Expectations".
How is that relevant today? On this past Tuesday I was on a road trip and listening to Andrew Wilkow of "The Wilkow Majority" on SiriusXM radio. He was talking about the pending cuts to the military. He stated that the focus would be on more "Special Operations". He referenced a famous named SEAL who said that "Ordinary" units in the Middle East were already doing some things traditionally left to the "Elite" units. Wilkow opined that if the drawdown included raising standards so the force was smaller but ever more badass, he was fine with that. None of that is a direct quote but it is the gist of what I heard.
I like Wilkows' show because he tells his listeners that "We're Right, They're Wrong. That's the end of the story. The arguments on this radio program cannot be broken". That is a pretty bold and ballsy statement for a civilian. So, give him a listen. He also has a show on the Blaze Network if you get it on your provider.
This blog post isn't about to argue with his conclusion or recommendation. It's to spell out why it would work and why he's right. He's right because I am sure that the Marines are not the only DOD element with Great Expectations. I am willing to bet a six pack of good beer that every armed service has it as well. I also know he's right from personal experience.
The problem with our Government isn't Great Expectations however. The problem is the "Tyranny of Low Expectations". Low Expectations are what cause us to allow a dope smoking, draft dodging womanizer to be President; Twice. Low Expectations are continually reelecting known ethics violators. Low Expectations are us not demanding impeachment and removal of the current President.
Low Expectations mean that we expect, tolerate, and accept failure as part of daily life as well. We are told that it isn't "reasonable" to expect a teenager to follow a curfew, and get outstanding grades in school, or even to graduate. Low expectations awards participation ribbons instead of a clear cut championship trophy. Low expectations by parents and school boards undermine teachers who want to teach in an environment of great expectations. I am convinced that the Tyranny of Low Expectations is the overall reason for the "plight of the poor, minority, or challenged people".
Most of my previous posts exhort people to get involved and make a difference. So now is the time to get into the fight. Win or Die. Demand that your government live up to Great Expectations. When they don't, do the right thing and vote them out. If you allow the tyranny of low expectations to keep its' grip, you'll get more of the same over and over again.
Demand Great Expectations. Your kids and grandkids will thank you.