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How to Become Adaptable Like a Marine

The US Marine Corps just had a birthday last month, so we thought it was high time to celebrate another year of badassery by drawing on some of their best qualities.

Though the Marines are our smallest military branch, they’re still undoubtedly the most specialized and have played a huge role in most of our military operations.

There's a reason why US Marines, beyond even other members of the military, are revered and respected for their military prowess and dedication to duty. They can weather any storm, whether it's combat in Iraq, battle in the jungles of Vietnam, or an invasion on the sandy beaches of Normandy.

Want to learn to “improvise, adapt, overcome” like a Marine?

We got your six:

3. Plan Ahead, But Don’t Be Inflexible

Contrary to popular belief, adaptation doesn't just mean thinking on your feet.

It means planning out what you're going to do and having at least a broad outline for your future actions.

It's a lot easier to adapt to changing circumstances when you have a beginning and endpoint for your efforts.

For instance, say that your goal was to go to college and get a degree, but then you had to adapt and take a year off to care for one of your parents. 

Having the plan will still allow you to make decisions that benefit the overall goal, like saving money, staying up to date with your studies, and so on so that when you return to college, you’re readier than ever to resume where you left off.

At the same time, recognize that your plan is just that: a plan. It’s not an ironclad schematic for your life.

Remember the Marine saying, "No plan survives contact with the enemy". The same is true for many facets of life.

Think of your plans as guidelines and goals rather than a road you can't jump off when necessary.

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2. Learn and Hone Your Technical Skills

There are artistic skills, and then there are more practical or technical skills.

To the Marines, and those who want to become adaptable like them, technical skills are king. That’s because technical skills always have real-world applicability and will help you get jobs after completing school or exiting the Marine Corps.

If you don’t already have some technical skills, learn them! Computer programming, auto mechanics, and even farming all count as technical, practical skills that can land you a job and that will help you think on your feet.

There’s a reason why adaptable, inventive people often seem to be polymathic, meaning they are experts in a lot of real-world skills.

1. Learn Another Language

Did you know that a lot of US Marines learn another language during their deployment? You should take a page out of this particular book and learn another language for yourself.

While English is still the dominant trade language across the world, this may change sometime in the future. 

Even if it doesn’t, learning another language is one of the best ways to keep your brain agile and flexible, as it takes every part of your brain to learn to speak another tongue with competency.

Furthermore, it’s another great thing to place on your resume (since it means you can communicate easily with more diverse people) and it’ll help stave off the effects of old age. Become multilingual and you’ll see your adaptability bloom.

Ultimately, becoming adaptable like a Marine will take a lot of effort and, most likely, some retraining of your old habits. But the rewards are more than worth the time and energy. Good luck!

Thanks for reading, 

Justin | Maine, USA