MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Marine expeditionary units represent everything the Marine Corps has to offer. Composed of ground, aviation, logistics and command elements, the MEU can accomplish any mission from humanitarian assistance to major combat operations.
The Marines that compose the MEU are the first responders to crises around the world. The success of the MEU is largely determined by young Marines dedicated to maintaining a force in readiness. However, this would not be possible without exceptional senior leadership.
Commander Samuel Ravelo, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s chaplain, strives to push himself to achieve the greatest standard possible since he first stepped foot on ship as a deck seaman many years ago. Chaplain Ravelo calls his job his passion and it shines through in the selfless act of taking care of the Marines and Sailors to his left and right. His growth into the leader he is today can only be attributed to the experiences he has had through the leaders before him.
In this Leadership 101, Chaplain Ravelo shares his wealth of knowledge about being a good leader.
Q. What was your inspiration for joining the Navy?
A. Breaking up with my girlfriend. I did not want to see her again so the only way for that to happen was for me to leave Miami, so I joined the Navy as a deck seaman. That is the guy who paints the ship and cleans the bathroom, which was my job when I came into the Navy. She was my inspiration!
Q. What did you learn through these experiences, the people in charge of you, and did you pick out any specific traits from them?
A. I had dreams to make a difference in life but I did not have the discipline. Being in the deck department I learned discipline. I learned that I did not want to do that for the rest of my life and at that time I felt mistreated. That gave me the inspiration to get myself together, the discipline to go to school, and achieve my dreams.
Q. What do you think makes a good leader?
A. I think, number one, is passion. Having the passion for what you do. I always tell people that, when you do your work with passion, it’s like moving a grain of sand; but people see you moving a big rock. If you do your job without passion, you can move a rock and people only see you moving a grain of sand. Number two is caring. Care for those who are entrusted to you, know who they are, their needs and they will all know that you really care. Third is your character: [people knowing] that you would do the same thing behind their back or in front of them so that they can trust you. So having a good character means people can trust you.
Q. Have you always been a good leader, is there something you had to learn, or did it come naturally for you?
A. I started my career as a deck seaman, but then I got out for nine years and came back as a chaplain in 2000. I was not a good leader; I led by yelling at my subordinates. I found one of those people, who was my assistant, and I had to apologize to him. I told him that I was not the same person anymore. That was part of my maturity. The yelling showed that I did not care. It did not show good character and it only showed passion for yelling, not for my career.
Q. Are there any takeaways for future Marines or Sailors wishing to grow in their leadership?
A. Yes: think about others first. In our society, we are taught that people have to serve us, [that] we are number one. Think about others being number one, and you being number two. See what you can do for others to make them better, and by you helping others to get better, you will get better yourself. Spotlight someone else and you will grow. If it is all about you, sooner or later you will fall.
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