Whether we realize it or not, business and war have a lot in common. The same strategies that win battles, create success in business as well. In addition to reading brilliant books by authors like yours truly, you can also learn from the sage advice of military leaders as well. Some of my favorites quotes:
- “No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.” George S. Patton, Jr. One of the greatest generals in American history gives us this reminder that we must get out from behind our desks. The most successful business owners command respect because they understand every aspect of their company. They can…and have…and will perform every task that’s necessary. Get in the trenches!
- “The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.” Sun Tzu. We must be willing to disengage from our egos if we want to be successful leaders. Setting the example of making decisions in the company’s best interest inspires selflessness and a devotion to the greater good in our employees as well.
- “I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.” Geronimo. Thought leaders explore beyond the boundaries of where other people live and work. They push into unexplored, uncharted territory, and the result is creativity and innovation that inspires the people around them. Growth and inspiration come from the willingness to free yourself from conventions.
- The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr You started your business because you had a dream, a vision. You should run that business by living in accordance with your code, your values, and your vision. Be consistent, and learn to trust your instincts.
- “Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.” Winston Churchill. I see it everyday: entrepreneurs working themselves into an early grave, pouring their raw energy into their business, as if that energy were limitless. Working toward efficiency – strategic deployment of resources for maximum long-term gain should be your goal.
- “My observation is that whenever one person is found adequate to the discharge of a duty… it is worse executed by two persons, and scarcely done at all if three or more are employed therein. “ George Washington. Finger-pointing, inefficiency, blame shifting … all signs that there’s an accountability issue. Even though much of business requires collaboration, it’s essential that you assign a single person to be the responsible, accountable party for ensuring that a job gets done.
- “I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.” Douglas MacArthur. While it’s important to know what your competition is up to, you must also keep an eye on what’s going on inside your own company. Lousy morale is contagious and can kill a company from within, much quicker than you’d expect.
Wars aren’t just won by violent encounters. They’re won by preparation, vigilance, and the willingness to do what must be done, even if it’s unpleasant. Taking a lesson from these military leaders helps you prepare yourself to win the battle for your company’s success.