In her wonderful volumes on American history, Mara Pratt shared a story about George Washington that we should all take to heart.
One day during the American Revolution, General George Washington rode upon a number of soldiers who were working to raise a beam up to the top of a military structure. The men somehow didn’t recognize Washington.
All the men were working except one. That one man continued to bark out orders. He yelled at the other men, “Now you have it! Already! Pull!”
Washington guided his horse a little closer to the order barking soldier. He quietly asked the soldier why he wasn’t helping the others. The young man looked up at Washington and angrily said, “Sir, don’t you know that I am the corporal?
Washington said, “I did not realize it. Beg pardon, Mr. Corporal.”
Washington then got off his horse, walked over to the soldiers and began helping them move the heavy beam. The General continued until the beam was put in place on top of the structure. Then, with sweat pouring down his face, he turned to the corporal and said, “If ever you need assistance like this again, call upon Washington, your commander- in-chief, and I will come.”
What is it that makes a great leader? Simply, a servant’s heart.
Is it possible for a person to be bulletproof? Protected beyond all measure of human understanding? America’s foremost historian, David Barton, shared a story that used to be found in almost every American history text book for one hundred and fifty years. Today, most students and Americans have never heard this story.
The story takes place twenty years before the American War for Independence. George Washington was a young man of twenty-three years old when he was called to duty in the French and Indian War. The war was between the United Kingdom and France. Both sides had claimed ownership of the land around the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. A peaceful agreement couldn’t be made so war broke out between the two European powers.
The Americans joined the British side and most of the Native Americans joined with the French. At the time, George Washington was Colonel of the Virginia Militia. George Washington and one hundred of his militia joined with General Braddock to kick the French out of Fort Duquane which is now the city of Pittsburgh.
On July 9, 1755, they walked right into an ambush. The British were still about seven miles from the fort marching in the midwestern wilderness when all of sudden they began taking on fire from both sides of their path. The French and Indians shot at them from all angles: from behind trees, underneath logs, sheltered from rocks, and even from above in the top of trees.
The British were some of the world’s best and most experienced soldiers. Unfortunately, it was at European style of warfare. In that style, both armies would line up in straight lines on opposite sides of a field and bravely fire at each other.
So, in the middle of a wilderness, the British did what they had been trained to do. They lined up shoulder to shoulder neatly as if they were marching in a parade. They were easy pickings for the enemy. The Indians and French protected by their hiding places took out the British with ease. In only two hours, over 700 of the 1,300 British and Virginia Militia troops were slaughtered. Only thirty of the French and Indians had been shot.
George Washington was the only officer who was not shot off of his horse. This twenty three year old militia leader found himself in command of what was left of the British army. What should he do? Continue to fight? Washington knew what he had to do. He must save what was left of his men. Washington gathered up the remaining troops and retreated back to Fort Cumberland.
During the battle, several horses had been shot from underneath Washington. Later, Washington found four bullet holes in his jacket, but he had not been touched by one bullet. He told his family in a letter that,“By the all powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation.” Washington knew he was protected by Almighty God. There was not a doubt in his mind about that.
Fifteen years later in 1770, George Washington and a close friend returned to those same woods where the battle had been fought. An Indian Chief heard that Washington was there and traveled far to meet with him. The Native American Chief told Washington that he had been a leader in that great battle and that he had instructed his braves to single out all the officers, including Washington. The Chief himself had shot at Washington seventeen times without success. Believing that Washington was under the protection of the Great Spirit, the Chief told his braves to quit firing on Washington.
On that day in 1770, the Chief told Washington, “I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle.I have come to pay homage to the man whose is the particular favorite of Heaven and who can never die in battle.”
There was a time when most American children were taught that story in school about our first President. Today, most Americans have never heard that story. A recent poll stated that only 40% of Americans have a basic knowledge of American history.That is very sad … and dangerous. Philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
That lesson goes both directions. Today, there are ignorant cries to tear down statues in an attempt to erase part of our history. But, if we don’t remember the mistakes of the past then we are condemned to repeat them.
There is evil in parts of history. We must never repeat the sins of the past. So, we must understand history. We must understand how the Hitler of the 1930’s became the Hitler of the 1940’s and killed over eleven million Jewish people. We must understand the history of slavery and how one man, Abraham Lincoln, led the fight to end that scourge in the United States in 1863.
History is not without evil … but we must remember it. History is also filled with stories of good and we must remember them too. We must walk on the shores of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and remember the Wright Brothers and man’s leap into a bigger world. We must remember that first shaky flight and how it shined a light onto the path that led us to Tranquility Base on July 20, 1969 where Neil Armstrong took “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” So, is it possible to be bulletproof and protected beyond all measure of human understanding? Oh yeah!
ANNOUNCING! A New Podcast Gaining Attention — Let Me Tell You A Story with Mark Bowser
Stories are everywhere! We all love them! We love them in books, at the movies, and in our favorite podcasts. But, what if a story could be — more? What if a story could change your life in a substantial, positive way? What if a story could take you to the pinnacles of success and show you how to scale life’s mountains too?
Well, that is what Let Me Tell You a Story podcast with Mark Bowser is all about. Professional Speaker & Author Mark Bowser will take you behind the scenes of some of history’s greatest feats and unknown achievements so that their stories can be a city on a hill shining like a beacon in the night inspiring us to live our best! Come join us every Monday and Thursday! Please subscribe now so that you won’t miss one exciting episode. Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, etc….
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Was George Washington really the first President of the United States? Are you sure?
George Washington became President of the United States in 1789, however, we won the War for Independence in 1781 to earn our freedom from Great Britain. So, what happened during all those intervening years? Were we leaderless? Did we have a functioning government in those years?
After we won the war at Yorktown, the Congress met and drafted a document called the Articles of Confederation. In essence, this was the first Constitution for the United States. And on March 1, 1781 it was ratified by all thirteen colonies making it the law and guiding principles for the infant nation.
At that time Congress elected unanimously a President of the United States. The official title was President of the United States in Congress Assembled. The man the Congress unanimously elected was John Hanson.
John Hanson served for only one year. During that pivotal year, Congress established the Treasury Department. Two other prominent establishments during the Hansen administration included the adoption of the Great Seal of the United State. This seal is still in use to this day. Another prominent accomplishment was that the fourth Thursday of every November would be a day of thanksgiving.
But, did this really make Hanson the first President of the United States? How come we didn’t learn about him in our history classes in school?
George Washington considered Hanson the first president. He addressed him in his correspondence by that title and he congratulated Hansen by saying, “I congratulate your Excellency on your appointment to fill the most important seat in the United States.”
After Hanson’s term was up, Congress elected another president. This went on until the Constitution was adopted in 1789. That is when George Washington was elected President of the United States. So, if we want to get technical about it, Washington was the eighth president, not the first.
But, it is very proper and fitting that George Washington is considered the father of our country and the first President of the United States. He is the first president under the Constitution of the United States. A document that is revered for its wisdom and rights to the people.
So, next year when we celebrate Presidents’ Day, let’s not forget Mr. Hanson and the other six forgotten presidents under the Articles of Confederation. And, let’s celebrate all of the presidents and future presidents that have helped lead the greatest nation in the history of the world. So, now you know. Thanks for reading today.
Why do leaders fail? This is a tricky question. One with multiple depths of answers. However, I believe there are two shining pillars that are always missing from leaders who fail. Sometimes, these failing leaders are missing both of these pillars and at other times they are missing just one of them. But, if either is missing, failure is inevitable.
What are these missing pillars? They are Character and Vision. Let’s take a few minutes to explore these pillars a bit deeper. Hitler was a man of great vision. A man who succeeded a great deal. But, Hitler was a lousy leader. Why? Because of a lack of moral character. Yes, he thought he had character. Yes, many others around him thought he had character too. But, to the masses of the world and to history, he lacked the basic moral character of honesty, uprightness, and love for fellow human beings. Because of this, he eventually failed and caused misery to millions of people. We could get into the theological reasons for this failure, but that is one for another discussion. All leaders who lack character at their core will fail. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday. To know this is true, all we have to do is look back at the last fifty years of contemporary history and look at all the people who have fallen from the heights of success to the depths of despair. Just to mention a few, we have evangelist Jim Baker, politician Gary Hart, and companies such as Enron. Unfortunately, the list could go on and on and on.
The second pillar that is missing from leaders who fail is vision. Vision is vital. Vision is critical. King Solomon in the book of Proverbs said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” And perish indeed they will. Where there is no vision or direction, people wander around in chaos with no purpose. The human experience needs direction and purpose. We not only need purpose, we crave it. Vision provides not only the direction but the purpose of the destination before the journey ever begins.
Successful leaders continually develop these two pillars. They are mindful of their character and where they are going. Would there be an America without a Washington? Would there be two countries if not for Lincoln? Would England have survived World War Two without Churchill, and would there be a Walt Disney World without a Walt? Will your organization thrive without you? A “you” who is focused on incredible character and a vision worthy of the moon. Some thoughts for us all to ponder. Thanks for reading today. God bless!
*Mark Bowser is a leadership and sales expert and for the last 27 years has traveled throughout the United States, Canada, and even Australia presenting business seminars. He is the author of several books including “Nehemiah on Leadership,” “Sales Success” with Zig Ziglar, “Some Gave It All” with Danny Lane (endorsed by Chuck Norris), and “The 3 Pillars of Success.” Mark Bowser can be reached at his website www.MarkBowser.com or email mark@MarkBowser.com. Schedule Mark for your next conference or training event. Online Seminars available too.
Podcast coming soon…Stay Tuned! Everyone loves stories, particularly inspiring ones. Join author and professional speaker Mark Bowser as he guides you on incredible journeys in search of success. You will cross the Delaware in a snow storm with General George Washington, soar to the moon landing with Neil Armstrong, and hang precariously from a skyscraper with a steel worker named Nick. With each episode, you will be motivated with a story packed with principles that shine the light on your own success journey.
Mark Bowser is an author of several books and a Professional Speaker. To check his speaking availability or to contact him then go to http://www.MarkBowser.com
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