“Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory.” ~General George S. Patton
His study of history, strategy and philosophy was profound. Even as he embraced the new technology of the tank and was a strategic innovator- his tactical knowledge and philosophy was deeply indebted to the classic historic warriors.
In this first quotation, you can see that Patton fully understood that no matter how far technology advances, wars are still fought by the warrior.
Isn’t this the same in business and personal life too? Patton’s words seem prophetic as technology simultaneously gives us greater access to one another while at the same time making human contact less direct.
Business and life, at their most basic, can be reduced to the simple interaction between human beings.
We live in a push button age. Let’s not forget that even though we can communicate across great distances and enjoy friendships with people we’ve never met face to face- we can’t replace the power of direct human interaction…
…and that’s the only way for the leader and your followers to truly share one spirit.
“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
Patton is without question one of my “go to” experts on leadership. His greatest skill, in my opinion, was his incredible ability to rally the troops- literally; to accomplish what others would never consider possible.
He did not do this by micro-managing. He picked the right people for the right jobs and expected innovation, personal responsibility and leadership at all levels from command to the troops on the front lines.
That’s what makes an army- or any team greater than the sum of its parts and more powerful than any individual.
But that does require training…
“A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood.”
Patton’s commitment to training was legendary. He understood that through proper, diligent training you prepare yourself to not only destroy your enemy, but to destroy the barriers that hold others back.
The “secret” of the martial arts- or anything else in life, is practice.
Next time you experience a failure, or even as you face adversity, ask yourself, “Did I train as hard as I could for this moment?”
If not, start there. If you did- then do it again!
“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.”
“If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened.”
But I’m going to stick to the plan and just add one more as a bonus!
I’m not sure if these were actually the words of Patton, or if Francis Ford Coppolla took some license to illustrate one of the General’s fundamental philosophies as he wrote the script for the movie, but this stands as one of my favorites.
Whenever I’m feeling a little weak in the knees about facing some unknown challenge- or I’m struggling to work my way out of some quagmire, I remember George C. Scott playing the General as he quotes Alexander the Great…
“L’audace, l’audace! Toujours l’audace!”
And that gets me through!
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