Tuesday, August 19, 2003

The Character of George Washington [ related book and pbs site | more books | more sites]
In the two years since 9/11, we've fought two wars half a world away, major combat in each lasting weeks. The American Revolution took eight and a half years to bring to conclusion. One man, George Washington, led the hopeless cause for its duration.

The Revolution drew out longer than our Civil War and WWII engagement put together. His troops were untrained. He lost more battles than he won. Through brutal winters and fetid summers, with not even enough boots or food, or certainly ammunition, he led on.

In the end, what Washington didn't do was as important as what he did. He didn't become King. He didn't retire to farm in peace, either. He served. Tirelessly. And then, he stepped aside.

In an age of monarchs, Washington preferred "my friends and fellow citizens" as his view of troops and people governed. Lincoln called it govenrment of, by, and for the people. In corporate America, we now call it servant leadership. In the time of George III, Louis XVI, and Napoleon, Washington nearly invented it.

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