By Chris Egge
Most Americans have been exposed to the plethora of acronyms and famous sayings from the many motion pictures that capture the history of our great armed forces. Maybe you know someone or have a family member that has served in one of our six, yes 6, United States Armed Services. For those of you trying to figure out all six, we will start with the mightiest of them all (I may be bias), and I’ll list the rest in no particular order: Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Airforce, Coast Guard and the recently established Space Force (yes, this is a legit service branch established in 2019).
Today, I am going to share with you one of the most widely applicable sayings that I learned while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. Not many people can answer when asked what the Marine Corps motto is, and that’s understandable because it is in Latin. It is Semper Fidelis, which translated into English means Always Faithful. This is often used as a greeting or farewell amongst current and former Marines in its shortened form, Semper Fi.
You may be wondering where does the strange word (name) Gumby come into play? If you’re too young to have grown up with cartoons and toys, please allow me to describe. Gumby is the name of a green-in-color, super bendy (flexible) Claymation character. He could bend in all sorts of configurations. If you’d like to be introduced, or take a stroll down memory lane, here you go!
Now, the U.S. Military (all branches of service) and the civilian world of professional and personal life all have something in common: unforeseen unpredictability. What does that mean? That means that life sometimes throws us a curve ball. Or maybe the mission plan didn’t mitigate all risk factors. Possibly a deadline got accelerated. Maybe the kids have an event or practice that they didn’t tell you about. We can go on and on with the many variabilities that our lives, jobs and missions can throw our way. Having a high degree of success in this environment will be dependent on our level of ability to stay flexible in these situations, which brings us to the Marine Corps saying, Semper Gumby … Always Flexible!
Recently, our society experienced a global pandemic that spurred economic turmoil affecting the supply chain, wage gaps, workforce shortages, travel hurdles, mental health challenges and many, many other new “curve balls.” We learned how to implement the word “pivot” in our lives, and those individuals and organizations that were able to practice Semper Gumby, or pivot, when needed, were the happiest, healthiest and potentially the most successful. This is a mindset that, when embraced, will lower your stress and anxiety; allow you to better assess the change in front of you, and you’ll be better suited for the choice of the next path forward.
In closing, remember the silly, little green guy named Gumby when you are faced with an unexpected change in the road of life. If you have customers or clients, like we do, being flexible in an ever-changing environment while staying true to pursuing their end goals is critical.
Take a deep breath, stay faithful, and be flexible.
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