I have often reflected that the causes of success or failure of men depend upon their … character, and [are] not a matter of choice. – Niccolo Machiavelli
He was there, tall and imposing, and upright with his natural grace and nobility. In front of the his men, he naturally commanded attention, his speech had seemingly come to close.
But now he hesitated. He stopped. This was unusual for him.
They knew him so well. They had followed him, through thick and thin, for years. But they were angry. They wanted to revolt. They hadn’t been paid; they had listen to his prepared speech; they had heard similar excuses before. Most of them still not convinced. He knew this.
He was at loss to what to do.
In a last desperate act, he pulled a letter from his pocket. Something was wrong, however.
He tried to read the letter, stumbling with his words, then, hopelessly staring at it.
He hestitated again. He, again, reach to a pocket, pulling out a pair of eyeglasses.
“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray, but almost blind, in the service of my country.”
Most had never seen these eyeglasses, something only General George Washington intimates had ever seen him wear. Humbled and embarrassed, many of the officers were now in tears. For, if the speech had not already destroyed the revolt, this act assured its demise. Washington left the meeting. The officers unanimously voted to wait for their overdue wages, and they would not “retire to some unsettled country” and leave Congress without an army.
“On other occasions he had been supported by the exertions of the army and the countenance of his friends,” said Captain Samuel Shaw, “but in this he stood single and alone.”
With that George Washington continued lead and help found the United States of America.
The point of this story is that George Washington, could not help himself, but be himself, and be leader even at his weakest moment. His officers followed the man, George Washington, because of who he was. Continue reading