Interview with General George Patton on Success and Leadership

General George S PattonWar is hell and so was getting this interview with General George S. Patton. I’ve wanted to sit down with one of the most brilliant generals the world has created for a while now…

Scott: First, General Patton thank you for allowing me this interview. You are arguably one the greatest generals of the last 100 years–but beyond that you are also one of the most successful leaders of the last 100 years. There is tons of talk these days of creating movements, of leading people, and making this a better place. What is your thoughts on this?

Patton:  A man must know his destiny. if he does not recognize it, then he is lost. By this I mean, once, twice, or at the very most, three times, fate will reach out and tap a man on the shoulder. if he has the imagination, he will turn around and fate will point out to him what fork in the road he should take, if he has the guts, he will take it.

Me: Wow… so how does one find his destiny?

Patton:  Live for something rather than die for nothing… By perseverance, study, and eternal desire, any man can become great. You need to overcome the tug of people against you as you reach for high goals.

Me: I see that, many times it is the ones around us that inject fear and insecurity, how does one overcome the fears to go out there and make it happen?

Patton:  The time to take counsel of your fears is before you make an important battle decision. That’s the time to listen to every fear you can imagine! When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead!

Me: But many don’t take that first step… almost as if they are locked in fear.

Patton: Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash. If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened.

Me: You were a great tactician any advice on tactics and planning?

Patton: Make your plans to fit the circumstances. Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.

Me: I see…

Patton: A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week. In case of doubt, attack.

Me: Okay. On leadership, you were a tremendous leader, do you have any leadership advice?

Patton: No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair. Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.

Me: Okay calm down… so to lead you have to step out from the office, from behind the computer screen…

Patton: Do everything you ask of those you command. Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. There’s a great deal of talk about loyalty from the bottom to the top. Loyalty from the top down is even more necessary and is much less prevalent. One of the most frequently noted characteristics of great men who have remained great is loyalty to their subordinates.

Me: When you think of success what are a couple key elements to attaining ones goals?

Patton: The test of success is not what you do when you’re on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.

Me: You had an uncanny ability to turn a dire situation into a victory. When it comes to preserving what is the key?

Patton: Pressure makes diamonds. If you are going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do… the body is never tired if the mind is not tired. You’re never beaten until you admit it– Do your damnedest in an ostentatious manner all the time.

Me: Great advice, do you have any closing thoughts?

Patton: If a man does his best, what else is there?

*all quotes are sources to Patton and might be combined.