Leadership Stories - Control the Outcome!
In 1976 I was stationed at Camp Courtney, which is a United States Marine Corps base located in Okinawa Japan.
I was only eighteen when I arrived there fresh out of Marine Corps Boot Camp and Communications School.
All I could say was WOW!
The beaches were incredible and as luck would have it the base was located basically on the beach. For the most part the weather was always nice, except for the one smaller typhoon we had during the time I was there.
Picture yourself as a young single carefree person away from home for the very first time ever.
Now keep in mind I felt as though I was pretty mature for an eighteen year old. But truth be told, and later I would find out, that I hadn't seen nothing yet.
The first six months I was there I didn't do much off the base. My routine was pretty much the same.
Even though we would run information in the morning around 4 am, I would run again at least three miles after my shift at night. My entertainment was limited to going to the enlisted club and having a beer or soda and watching the free movie they offered.
Other than that I played cards with some of the other guys and watched the only channel on TV that ran endless reruns of "The Rockford Files". To this day I still like that show, or at least the reruns of it.
At first I was not interested at all since I had never been further than across the street from the main gate of the base. By the way the restaurant across the street from the gate had the best soup ever. Not sure what they put in it, and I was kind of afraid to ask, but it sure was good. Some kind of fish I think.
Anyway after a little bit of encouragement from him I finally decided to go with him.
We took a local bus to one of the Okinawa cities that most of the service men went to which was about 10 miles or so away.
We got off the bus and started going to some of the night clubs. We had a drink in them and went on a little further and visited another one.
To be honest it wasn't much fun but I was trying to pretend that I enjoyed it.
We just kept getting further and further away from where we started. I didn't think to much of if though.
After a while we would just pop our head into the night club and see if it interested us or not. If it did we went in, and if not we moved on to the next one.
Before we could get even a few feet we were surrounded by a group of about 30 guys. They asked if we knew where we were and of course we didn't.
My friend turned and walked through one part of the circle they had created around us. As I turned and followed I was struck in the face by one of them from the side. My immediate reaction was to cover my face and bend over as the entire group pounced on me.
I was being struck hard by fists and kicks from every angle you can imagine.
I can still remember my thoughts that night as clearly as if I were still there. The thought in my head was that if I fall to the ground my life would be over. So I was not going down. The other thought was that at any moment I would be stabbed from behind.
My decision while I was bent over protecting my private parts and my face was more clear than ever now. I must react now or this was going to be very painful for me. Death was not a part of the equation. Only pain.
The endless kicking and punching that was striking every part of my body was beginning to make me angry now.
That is when I noticed my fellow Marine who I thought had left me was still there fighting with me now. The group around him broke up and left also when they saw the ones around me leave.
When we saw our break we then both ran in the opposite direction.
The one lesson I learned that night more than ever was that in life we have choices. We can roll over and give up and assure ourselves of our destiny.
We can conduct a pity party and say why me. We can believe that there is nothing we can do about the situation and let it control us.
Or we can do something about our circumstances. We can control the outcome by taking action.
We can focus on winning instead of accepting defeat.
It may not always turn out the way we would like but, I would much rather control my destiny than let someone else decide it for me.