March 2019

Eight Things I’ve Learned in Eight Decades: Charlie Davis

Author: Special to CH2 | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

On Leadership
As a young lieutenant fresh out of basic school in Quantico, Virginia, I was taught the following: Lead from the front, not from behind; don’t expect your Marines to do anything you are not willing to do yourself; and the day you get too smart to listen and learn from the last Marine in the back rank is the day you need to take off your rank insignia and move on. You are not a leader! These lessons stood me in good stead, not only as a Marine infantry officer, but as a banker and the general manager of the Southeast division of an energy efficient lighting company.

On Positive Attitude
If you show up for work without a positive attitude, you might as well have stayed at home. You will accomplish little and you will negatively impact those who you work with or come in contact with you.

On Work Ethic
In the military, you are taught to show up 15 minutes early to assume the watch, when assigned with the Navy or the Officer of the Day as a Marine. Later in the business world, I learned that not only do you need to show up on time, but also as a Georgia Southern professor taught me in an advanced managers course, “dressed to play.” By this he meant not only the correct clothes appropriate for the job you were going to do, but also mentally prepared and physically alert.

On Health
When I was young, I took good health for granted and believed I could run through mountains rather than walk around them. Now, after having two new eyes (cataract surgery), two new chromium knees, two hernias repaired and two kidney stones removed, I realized that good health is a gift from God that needs to be nourished and protected. I believe that God helps those who help themselves.

On Exercise
Early in my adult careers, I thought I could eat anything I wanted, drink anything I wanted and basically do anything I wanted to do without consequences. Fortunately, the Marine Corps taught me that physical fitness was a necessary part of not only my job, but of a healthy lifestyle including being mentally alert. Later, in the corporate world, I noticed that many contemporaries were getting fat, sluggish and ineffective. This realization led me to a lifelong commitment to physical exercise: running four miles a day, five days a week as a banker, to daily workouts in the Columbia SC YMCA after retirement, to the three days per week working out at LAVA 24 Fitness here on the island.

On Education
I was fortunate to earn an NROTC scholarship at the University of South Carolina, which led to a degree in civil engineering and a commission in the United States Marine Corps. Training and education are a way of life in the Marine Corps, where officers spend a considerable part of their career in school, starting with the basic school where all newly commissioned officers are taught how to be effective leaders before they are ever entrusted with the lives of young Marines. This continues throughout their career at Amphibious Warfare School (master’s degree in military science) and, in my case, a special education program, where I was given a leave of absence with pay to attend the University of South Carolina to earn an MBA in management and finance. It is apparent in today’s environment that education is more important than ever, not only to keep up with today’s rapidly expanding technology, but to understand the history of lessons of the past—of things that work and don’t work.

On America
A study of world history reveals that America is the only nation in the history of the world that has invested its treasure and blood in defense of other countries’ freedom without asking anything in return. Think WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam extending to today’s wars. In my view, that makes us the greatest nation ever!

On Community
Having lived on both coasts and Hawaii plus several overseas deployments to Vietnam and Okinawa during my Marine Corps career, it is great to live on our island and have had an active part in making the Shelter Cove community a great place to live, work and play.

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