Look to Eisenhower for the Real Reason We Won the War

It’s lazy to start an essay with a quote. So we’ll kill some time and tell you what’s ahead.

It’s about leadership, World War II and the real reason we won the war.

But, more importantly, it’s about what you can do today to get more of what you want.

It starts with that quote.

“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do,” said General Norman Schwarzkopf. “The hard part is doing it.”

We could end there. We could borrow the tagline from that shoe company and tell readers the obvious… to just do it.

But that’s been done. It wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

Bombs Bursting in Air

The idea is on our mind this week as we just listened to some historic recordings.

We bet not 1 in 10 of today’s generation will ever hear what we heard.

It’s a shame. It’s important.

The recordings are of a small battle outside of Cologne, Germany. They were put on tape near the tail end of World War II.

As we listen, we hear a war correspondent getting the latest word from a confident general at the front lines. In the background – just a couple hundred yards away – are the sounds of death.

Mortars explode. Machine guns burst from one side of the line and then answer from the other.

It’s a hell of a thing. Quite literally.

And yet the general does what a general should do.

He stays calm, talks of the victories and promises the good news that’s ahead.

It made us think. What is it about a good leader that will have men sleeping for days in foxholes, marching toward death and jumping out of planes?

It’s just like the Gulf War leader said. We all know the right thing to do. We just need somebody to convince us to do it.

A Leader of Leaders

When it comes to World War II, of course, the man who got it done was General Eisenhower.

He didn’t need a textbook to tell him how to lead. It was natural. And his men could sense it.

That’s vital. No book, after all, can teach humility. And it takes a humble leader to keep his men charging up the beach after a mortar just tore their friends apart.

Eisenhower kept humble by staying close to his men and treating them as equals… not as pawns he was trying to get something out of.

In his own words… “I adopted a policy of circulating through the whole force to the full limit imposed by my physical considerations. I did my best to meet everyone from the general to private with a smile, a pat on the back and definite interest in his problems.”

The general, you see, wasn’t one for pageantry or fireworks.

He wasn’t a great orator and didn’t pack his jeep with trophies for the boys.

No. He had honest conversations and offered an “attaboy” for a job well-done.

His men appreciated him for it.

Eisenhower wasn’t working for himself. He wasn’t trying to boost his career and solidify his political ambitions.

Nope, he knew what was right… and he didn’t let the hard part slow him down. He went after it.

Men naturally followed.

The Leader in the Mirror

We look around these days, and we see all sorts of leaders… at least by title.

But if we look for honesty and humility, golly, we’d starve to death searching for it.

Honesty is easy. There are no shades of gray.

But humility, that’s tough.

If we’re truly honest, though… if we look in the mirror and blow aside the platitudes of the press, ignore the metals pinned to our chests (we all have them in some form) and look at the cold hard facts, we’ll all be humbled.

Eisenhower knew he could not beat the Nazis on his own.

He needed men.

And because of that, they needed him.

Be a leader and men will follow.

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