“The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools.”
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”
“The most important thing I learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do. You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your personal example they will follow.”
– General Colin Powell
“Who you are speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
“When things go wrong in your command, start wading for the reason in increasing larger concentric circles around your own desk.”
– General Bruce D. Clark
The essential tasks of the military leader, summarized by Dick Winters (1/506 Airborne Infantry Regiment, WWII):
“I may not have been the best combat commander, but I always strove to be. My men depended on me to carefully analyze every tactical situation, to maximize the resources that I had at my disposal, to think under pressure, and then to lead them by personal example.”
“The good general is simply the good company commander in his post-graduate course. The idea that more godlike qualities are required of him and that he above others can achieve miracles through the working of his will is dismissed as idle superstition.”
– S.L.A. Marshall in “Men Against Fire”
“When you become a leader you give up the right to think about yourself.”
– Gerald Brooks
‘What are the values of a Good Soldier?’…‘Freedom and courage. Freedom is what makes us fight, and courage is what keeps us from running away.’ Those who command Soldiers in combat understand both why men fight and why they do not run away. The wellsprings of the warrior spirit come not only from the aggressive, animalistic depths of a man’s nature, but also from his most philosophical and idealistic yearnings. Courage, like bravery, has been the first requirement of the Soldier since the most primitive days. Good commanders talk easily and thoughtfully on these matters.
– The Challenge of Command by Roger Nye
“Who you are on a daily basis is who you are when you compete. If you want to be a champion, you have to have the mindset of a champion every day.”
– Jerry Ignalls, Olympic Weight Lifter
“If you’re never satisfied with what you have achieved, you’re never going to be satisfied with what you do achieve.”
– Chris LoCurto
“I contend that fortitude in war has its roots in morality; that selection is a search for character and that war itself is but one more test— the supreme and final test if you will—of character. Courage can be judged apart from danger only if the social significance and meaning of courage is known to us; namely that a man of character in peace becomes a man of courage in war. He cannot be selfish in peace and yet be unselfish in war. Character, as Aristotle taught, is a habit, the daily choice of right and wrong; it is a moral quality which grows to maturity in peace and is not suddenly developed on the outbreak of war. For war, in spite of what we have heard to the contrary, has no power to transform, it merely exaggerates the good and evil that are in us, till it is plain for all to read; it cannot change; it exposes.”
– Lord Moran, in The Anatomy of Courage (1945)
“Be an example to your men, in your duty and in private life. Never spare yourself and let your troops see that you don’t in your endurance of fatigue and privation. Always be tactful and well-mannered. Avoid excessive sharpness or harshness of voice, which usually indicates the man who has shortcomings of his own to hide.”
– German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
“When you are commanding, leading [soldiers] under conditions where physical exhaustion and privations must be ignored, where the lives of [soldiers] may be sacrificed, then, the efficiency of your leadership will depend only to a minor degree on your tactical ability. It will primarily be determined by your character, your reputation, not much for courage—which will be accepted as a matter of course—but by the previous reputation you have established for fairness, for that high-minded patriotic purpose, that quality of unswerving determination to carry through any military task assigned to you.”
– General George C. Marshall, Speaking to officer candidates in September 1941
“We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”
– Omar Bradley
“Opportunity is missed by most because is it dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
– Thomas Edison
“A lack of planning on your part does not constitute a CRISIS on mine…unless of course I failed to lead you.”
“To spend a few minutes with people is simply not productive. If one wants to get anything across, one has to spend a fairly large minimum quantum of time. The manager who things that he can discuss the plans, direction, and performance of one of his subordinates in fifteen minutes – and many managers believe this – is just deceiving himself. If one wants to get to the point of having an impact, one needs probably at least an hour and usually more. And if one has to establish a human relationship, one needs infinitely more time.”
– Peter F. Drucker
“Be selective about whom you take on as friends, colleagues, and neighbors. The world is full of agreeable and talented folk. The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best. But remember that our moral influence is a two-way street, and we should thus make sure by our own thoughts, words, and deeds to be a positive influence on those we deal with. The real test of personal excellence lies in the attention we give to the often neglected small details of our conduct. Make it your business to draw out the best in others by being an exemplar yourself.”
General Colin Powell’s Rules:
1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
2. Get mad, then get over it.
3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
4. It can be done!
5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
7. You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
8. Check small things.
9. Share credit.
10. Remain calm. Be kind.
11. Have a vision. Be demanding.
12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
“In his search to be a great leader, the young centurion sought out the Republic’s veteran warrior. Looking up from his labor, the sage spoke: “I know not what beats beneath your tunic, but what I saw in a leader from foot soldiers to proconsul is thus:
One who makes drill bloodless combat and combat bloody drill…
One who disciplines the offense and not the offenders…
One whose heart is with the Legion and whose loyalty is to the Republic…
One who seeks the companionship of the long march and not the privilege of position…
One whose commission is assigned from above and confirmed from below…
One who knows the self and, therefore, is true to all…
One who seeks to serve and not to be served…
This is the one who leads best of all.”
– LTC Jeffrey Spara in Military Leadership: In Pursuit of Excellence.
“The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army. It is possible to impart instruction and give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice as to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey.
The one mode or the other in dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander. He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them respect for himself; while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others, especially his subordinates, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself.”
– LTG John M. Schofield, 1879
“Every hour be firmly resolved… to accomplish the work at hand with fitting and unaffected dignity, goodwill, freedom, justice. Banish from your thoughts all other considerations. This is possible if you perform each act as if it were your last, rejecting every frivolous distraction, every denial of the rule of reason, every pretentious gesture, vain show, and whining complaint against the decrees of fate. Do you see what little is required of a man to live a well-tempered and god-fearing life? Obey these precepts, and the gods will ask nothing more (II.5).
Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it. (II.4)”
– Marcus Aurelius in The Emperor’s Handbook
“I contend that fortitude in war has its roots in morality; that selection is a search for character and that war itself is but one more test— the supreme and final test if you will—of character.
Courage can be judged apart from danger only if the social significance and meaning of courage is known to us; namely that a man of character in peace becomes a man of courage in war. He cannot be selfish in peace and yet be unselfish in war.
Character, as Aristotle taught, is a habit, the daily choice of right and wrong; it is a moral quality which grows to maturity in peace and is not suddenly developed on the outbreak of war. For war…has no power to transform, it merely exaggerates the good and evil that are in us, till it is plain for all to read; it cannot change; it exposes.”
– Lord Moran, in The Anatomy of Courage (1945)
“If you as a leader allow people to halfway do their jobs and don’t demand excellence as a prerequisite to keeping their job, you will create a culture of mediocrity. If you allow people to misbehave, underachieve, have a bad attitude, gossip, and generally avoid excellence, please don’t expect to attract and keep good talent. Please don’t expect to have an incredible culture.”
– Dave Ramsey in EntreLeadership
“When you act on your priority, you’ll automatically go out of balance, giving more time to one thing over another. The challenge then doesn’t become one of not going out of balance, for in fact you must. The challenge becomes how long you stay on your priority. To be able to address your priorities outside of work, be clear about your most important work priority so you can get it done. Then go home and be clear about your priorities there so you can get back to work.
“Success is peace of mind that is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
– Coach John Wooden
“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but by how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”
– General George S. Patton
“A man has integrity if his interest in the good of the service is at all times greater than his personal pride, and when he holds himself to the same line of duty when unobserved as he would follow if his superiors were present”
– General S.L.A. Marshall
“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the quality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. In the end, leaders are much like eagles… they don’t flock, you find them one at a time.”
“Always do everything you ask of those you command.”
– General George S. Patton
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
– Abraham Lincoln
“A man does not have himself killed for a half-pence a day or for a petty distinction. You must speak to the soul in order to electrify him.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte
“Read over and over again the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugene and Frederic…This is the only way to become a great general and master the secrets of the art of war…”
– Napoleon Bonaparte
“Leaders must be seen to be up front, up to date, up to their job and up early in the morning.”
– Marcus Sieff
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
– John Quincy Adams
“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”
– Erin Majors
“There are three kinds of people: Those who are immovable, those who are moveable, and those who move them.”
– Li Hung
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
– John Stuart Mills
“Without a word this uniform also whispers of freezing troops, injured bodies, and Americans left forever in foreign fields. It documents every serviceman’s courage, who by accepting this uniform, promises the one gift he truly has to give: his life. I wear my uniform for the heritage of sacrifice it represents and more. I wear my uniform with pride, for it represents the greatest nation of free people in the world.”
– Captain Karen Dorman Kimmel
“In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten; then he who continues the attack wins.”
– General Ulysses S. Grant
“War makes extremely heavy demands on the soldier’s strength and nerves. For this reason, make heavy demands on your men in peacetime exercises.”
– German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel
“We do not seek peace in order to be at war, but we go to war that we may have peace. Be peaceful, therefore, in warring, so that you may vanquish those whom you war against, and bring them to the prosperity of peace.
– St. Augustine
“Tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrow,
We gave our today.”
– The Kohima Epitaph
“Hard pressed on my right. My center is yielding. Impossible to maneuver. Situation excellent. I am attacking.”
– Ferdinand Foch at the Battle of the Marne
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”
– George Orwell
“I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy…in order to give their children the right to study painting, poetry, and music.”
– John Adams
“I offer neither pay, nor quarters, nor food; I offer only hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles, and death. Let him who loves his country with his heart, and not merely with his lips, follow me.”
– Giuseppe Garibaldi
“In the absence of orders, go find something and kill it.”
– Field Marshall Erwin Rommel
“There is only one tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is to use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wound, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time.”
– General George S. Patton Jr.
“It is well that war is so terrible, else we should grow too fond of it.”
– General Robert E. Lee
“Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.”
– Raymond Lindquist
“Some succeed because they are destined to; most succeed because they are determined to.”
“The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”
“Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.”
– David Hackworth
“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”
– Julius Caesar
“If you are going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do… the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”
– General George S. Patton Jr.
“Happiness is found not in doing what one likes to do, but in liking what one has to do.”
– Sir James M. Barrie
“To be pleased with one’s limits is a wretched state.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“I don’t know whether this is the best of times or the worst of times, but I assure you it’s the only time you’ve got.”
– Art Buchwald
“We are defined by what we do repeatedly, therefore excellence is a habit, not an act.”
“The friend of my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.”
– Ulysses S. Grant
And more to come…