Back in our history, during the Seven Years’ War, long before our revolution, George Washington commanded a Virginia militia. His militia was in a fight with the French as this time. But instead of taking the offensive during this one particular moment in the battle, young George Washington decided to take the defensive and build a fort with trenches and wait for the French to arrive.
It didn’t take long for Washington to realize his blunder: The fort and its surrounding trenches were within firing distance of the tree-covered hills surrounding the meadow. The French and their Indian allies never left their cover for the kind of open-field battle Washington was expecting. They were hidden in the thick of the wilderness, firing down into the trenches at will.
To make matters worse, it began to rain and the water flooded the trenches, ruining the gunpowder, so they couldn’t even fire back at the French. They were doomed.
With a third of his troops dead or wounded, Washington sought terms for their surrender. Incredibly, the French were remarkably generous, asking only that the soldiers leave their heavy weapons and return to their homes.
The next morning, Washington and the other survivors marched out of Fort Necessity, bedraggled and embarrassed.
But George would eventually become a general. He learned from his mistakes as a young leader to become a brilliant decision maker, who eventually would lead our country to victory over the most powerful fighting force at that time, the British, and help win our independence as a free nation.
The importance of this historical narrative is that even legends, like George Washington, made mistakes along their way to excellence.
More importantly, he failed forward and became a legend and hero because of it.
You will make many mistakes in your journey.
Be like George and fail forward.
About the author: Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a professor of human performance at Austin Peay State University. He is the author of the Washington Post bestselling business book, “Full Throttle.” Dr. Steinberg speaks about emotional toughness to Fortune 500 companies. Visit www.drgreggsteinberg.com and see more stories like this at www.EmotionalToughnessUniversity.com. (Get your free e-book there as well as free vids)