Navy SEALs, US Marines Use Positive Human Traits for Success

By Steve Hammons
Jan 25, 2007

The wide range of human traits we see today have been with us throughout time and throughout the long evolution of the human race.  Although we know all too well about the negative characteristics of our human species, letís focus on some positive traits and virtues. What positive human characteristics are worth exploring and cultivating? Throughout human history this question has been asked and lessons have been learned. 
As part of an examination of this question, it may be worth looking at some of the human traits and virtues emphasized by some of our best military professionals, the U.S. Navy SEALs and the U.S. Marine Corps.
We do not need to be SEALs or Marines to consider the value of these traits. Nor are SEALs and Marines the only ones who own these characteristics. 
Human virtues and positive characteristics are found in all walks of life and in many kinds of people. SEALs and Marines just try to tap into these positive human qualities that are available to all of us.
Itís true that SEALs and Marines use these virtues to face life-and-death combat situations and extremely challenging missions. In these scenarios, SEALs and Marines must maintain strong and effective virtues and traits. Not using them can mean mission failure or death.
However, the same kinds of virtues are around us every day. We see them in family and friends, colleagues and strangers we might run in to on a daily basis. We might read about people who show these virtues or see something on TV that demonstrates these traits. These positive traits can be found in the people of many different countries and cultures. We might see them in grandparents or in children and young people. 
Part of the reason military groups like SEALs and Marines focus on certain traits and virtues is so they can accomplish missions successfully and survive in one piece. 
However, another reason is the recognition that positive human development, as individuals and teams, and as a species, has great value in and of itself.
In an article written by former Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine for back in 2004, certain human traits and values were examined. 
Divine pointed out that Navy SEALs try to develop and use certain human characteristics to achieve success on many levels. 
Among the traits and virtues Divine touched on were drive, discipline, responsibility, accountability, ambition, honor, integrity, flexibility, creativity, discipline, learning and winning.
In his article, Divine pointed out that positive traits and virtues like those listed above require practice and implementation every day to make them part of our lives. 
He explained that our efforts each day to tap into these traits in ourselves and others will undoubtedly not be perfect. But, by learning them, keeping them in mind and putting them into action, we will make continual progress. 
Besides these ideas from Divineís experiences with the Navy SEALs, another group in our military with a unique reputation is the U.S. Marine Corps. The Marines are also known to utilize certain leadership principles and traits. 
Marine Corps leadership traits include dependability (certainty of proper performance of duty), bearing (creating favorable impression in carriage, appearance and personal conduct), courage (mental quality that recognizes fear of danger or criticism, but enables one to proceed with calmness and firmness), decisiveness (ability to make decisions promptly and announce them in clear, forceful manner), endurance (mental/physical stamina measured by ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress and hardship) and enthusiasm (display of sincere interest and exuberance in performance of duty).
Additional Marine leadership traits include initiative (taking action in the absence of orders), integrity (uprightness of character and soundness of moral principles, including truthfulness and honesty), judgment (ability to weigh facts and possible solutions on which to base sound decisions), and justice (giving reward and punishment according to merits of the case impartially and consistently).

And there are more: Knowledge (understanding of a science, art and the range of one's information, including professional knowledge and an understanding of fellow Marines), tact (ability to deal with others without creating offense), unselfishness (avoidance of providing for one's own comfort and personal advancement at the expense of others) and loyalty (quality of faithfulness to country, the Corps, the unit, to one's seniors, subordinates and peers).
Some principles of leadership used by Marines are also worth knowing about: 
- Know yourself and seek self-improvement. 
- Be technically and tactically proficient. 
- Develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates. 
- Make sound and timely decisions. 
- Set the example. 
- Know your Marines and look out for their welfare. 
- Keep your Marines informed. 
- Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions. 
- Ensure assigned tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished. 
- Train your Marines as a team. 
- Employ your command in accordance with its capabilities. 
This world of ours faces many very difficult challenges: Terrorism, war and other bloody conflicts, crime, human insanity, disease, hunger, suffering, poverty, injustice, degradation of our lands, oceans and wildlife... Itís a depressingly long list sometimes. 
And most, if not all of it, can be traced directly to human characteristics and human behavior. 
By learning more about positive human traits and virtues, such as those of the Navy SEALs and United States Marines, maybe we take a step toward winning this larger war. Winning the battle of human development. 
And we just might end up as better human beings in a better world because of our efforts.