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General George S. Patton (1885-1945) is a man whose name still resounds today. His contribution to the war effort in WWII inspired his generation of men to fight for the values that their country stood for. Now, as a great war hero his life and lessons are studied around the world by military commanders, athletes, entrepreneurs, and historians.

However, Patton wanted his lessons to be written down and read directly by those who were curious enough to learn. As such, he wrote his maxims. Revolving around themes of leadership and perseverance, Patton wanted all his readers to know what it took to overcome difficulties and triumph ahead.

Although his maxims revolve around war, the military, and trials of combat, his wisdom spanned far wider than them. Because, from a career of continual observation and experiences, Patton learned some fundamental truths about human nature. As a result, these selected maxims are the ones in which we can examine closely, and find the deeper lessons from such a great man of history.

Maxim No. 1

“A good plan executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

 Leaders in any profession always take action. They focus on executing the objective, rather than perfecting the plan, because they know plans alone are insufficient to achieve the outcome.

You can plan all you like, and it is important to do so, but if you don’t take action quickly, then you may get caught off guard, or miss the bigger opportunity while someone else doesn’t.

Maxim No. 2

“One of the most frequently noted characteristics of great men who have remained great is loyalty to their subordinates.”

 It’s easy for leaders to take for granted those under them, forgetting that their subordinates are the ones responsible for the status and success they achieve. And it is a sign of a weak and insecure leader who will put down those under them so they can rise to the top.

As you get older and advance in life, the chances of you being a guide or leader for people who depend on you increases. As a result, it is wise to consider them extensions of yourself, giving them the very loyalty and humility you expect – since both of your success depends on it.

Maxim No. 3

“I have a notion that usually the great things a man does appear to be great only after we have passed them. When they are at hand they are normal decisions and are done without knowledge. In the case of a General, for example, the almost superhuman knowledge which he is supposed to possess exists only in the mind of his biographer.”

A cool concept as often you can be unaware of which decision you make will have a profound impact on yourself and society, because at the time they seem ‘normal’.

Just like you don’t know if the girl at the bar you approach will just be “another girl” or the love of your life. This is what makes life exciting.

Maxim No. 4

“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.”

 Being willing to make the decision also means you are willing to bear the responsibility if that decision goes poorly. That is the courage and burden of the leader.

To lead something is to bear the responsibility of the group or community and that is one of the greatest honours a man can hold, since as the saying goes, “Men don’t follow titles, they follow courage”.

Maxim No. 5

“It is better to live in the limelight for a year than in the wings forever.”

 I don’t completely agree with this statement, but I do enjoy the premise of it. Although there is a low chance of you going to war or experiencing life or death danger, the concept for a man to be ambitious for greatness, no matter the outcome, is a powerful motivator. It’s a powerful mentality that many hyper successful individuals share, and many of which don’t live very long.

I guess the question is: what do you want out of this life? And what are you willing to sacrifice? Because some people are willing to sacrifice everything.

Maxim No. 6

“It is really amazing what the determination on the part of one man can do to many thousands.”

 Within each of us, we all hold the power to influence the world. And the proof of this is written in the great people of the past. A perfect example is Gandhi, who took the British empire out of India with the weapons of truth and non-violence.

He inspired his countryman to embark on a decade long struggle against the British, ultimately winning their independence. Both Patton and Gandhi cultivated the determination within themselves to motivated thousands.

Maxim No. 7

“Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.”

Courage and fear are the opposite sides of the same coin. If you succumb to your fears, you are on the path to failure and if you overcome them, you are on the path to success.

“Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgement that something else is more important than fear”.

Maxim No. 8

“If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows not fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are the more they are frightened. “The courageous man is the man who forces himself, in spite of his fear, to carry on. Discipline, pride, self-respect, self- confidence and the love of glory are

attributes which will make a man courageous even if he is afraid.”

 It is important to remember that at one point even Michael Jackson was petrified to perform on a stage in front of people.

Watching others achieve tremendous feats of success should only give you confidence that you too have the ability to achieve this, because at the end of the day we are all human. The only thing that separates us are qualities such as “discipline, pride, self-respect, self- confidence and the love of glory” Which are all qualities you can learn.

Maxim No. 9

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”

 The men who fought in WWII were called upon to fight for their countries. Their courage, their stern resolution, and the difficulties they faced all built the foundations of the freedom, prosperity, and safety we enjoy today. It is better to rejoice their sacrifice, than to mourn them – better to live a life worthy of what they fought for, than to waste it away.

Maxim No. 10

“You are not beaten until you admit it.”

 If you never give up, you’ll never lose. The only certainty in life are hard days ahead, so wear these experiences and build them into your character. You don’t need to be invincible, but you should try being unstoppable against all odds.

Maxim No. 11

“It’s the unconquerable soul of man and not the nature of the weapon he uses which insures victory.”

This quote is true not just in the context of war but with anything. It is your unconquerable soul that will get you over the line. Because you can have all the advantages in the world, but if you lack the will, then someone with much less and more passion is going to take it from you.

Maxim No. 12

“One makes plans to fit the circumstances and does not try create circumstances to fit plans.”

 Some people make plans in correspondence to the changes of the world around them. Some people try influence the world around them to fit their own plans.

Maxim No. 13

“It is easy to die for nothing; one should die for something.”

 A very extreme message about finding one’s purpose.

This does not mean every man must die fighting for his country but fighting his own battles to protect, provide, and care for his community. However, there are times in history where the purpose of the individual and his country aligns. WWII was one of those times.

Maxim No. 14

“Always do more than is required of you.”

 A mantra all people should live by, especially if you want to improve upon your career and relationships. Don’t listen to social media trends that promote laziness. This is not how the world works.

Remember that everyone starts at the bottom and don’t think for some reason you are better or more entitled than the generations of workers before you.

“The man who does more than he is paid for, will soon be paid for more than he does.” – Napoleon Hill.

Maxim No. 15

“Do not regard what you do only as preparation for doing the same thing more fully or better at some later time. Nothing is ever done twice. There is no next time.”

 A harsh reality but it is also what makes life so amazing.

You can never experience something twice, so don’t go through life thinking “oh I’ll get them next time”. Recognise that life is fleeting, and that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and that you can replicate scenarios, but each moment is unique to itself.

Maxim No. 16

“Lack of orders is no excuse for inaction.”

 A common trait all exceptional individuals have. We have all been there knowing that you could do more but don’t because you haven’t been told to yet.

This trait is something that you need as an entrepreneur and an employee who is eager to move up the ladder. The actions you’re not expected to make are the ones that positively compound for you the most.

Maxim No. 17

“Never make excuses whether or not it is your fault.”

Nobody likes to hear excuses so don’t try give any.

Usually if you are in a position where you feel obliged to give an excuse the other person won’t care whether you have a good excuse or not.

Life is about taking things on the chin, keeping calm and moving forward. This encourages taking responsibility, your fault or not you must still take the needed action to mend your life back together and not just sit there blaming someone else.

Written by: Thomas Hakim