10 Business Lessons Learned from Military History

When I was a boy, I took a trip to Gettysburg. I remembered standing on a large boulder at the top of a hill known as Little Round Top, staring down at a rocky valley below. It was about 8:45pm, the air was thick and humid, and the skyline was a purple-orange haze. An eerie silence covered the land, broken every couple minutes by the lonesome call of a bird far in the distance. As I stood there, I watched the fireflies sway in and out of the grassy meadow below. “Here,” I said to myself, “Here, is where Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain stood. Here is where he held his position; at all costs he held.”

Since the age of 12, I have had a passion for studying military history. Through my years of content consumption, I have learned lessons that I have applied to my own life. Below are 10 lessons that have helped shape and mold me into the leader, entrepreneur, and businessman I am today.

1.)  Courage is acknowledging fear exists. And yet, in light of its taunting grip, you choose to take a breath, put one foot forward, and step into the unknown.

2.)  A man’s ability to gain the genuine trust, respect, and submission of other men and to lead them into battle starts with his personal, steadfast commitment to the cause and the well-being of the men he leads.

3.)  In the midst of combat, success depends on your ability to live in the here-and-now. You must leverage your strength and focus to conquer the moment at hand, with no distraction of the one that follows.

4.)  The deepest sense of trust and camaraderie men can experience comes when they bind themselves to one another – abandoning their egos, their differences, and their perception of what can be accomplished and replacing these with an unbreakable belief in the power of each other and their potential as one unit.

5.)  You are entitled to nothing in life. The sooner you understand that reality, the harder you will push yourself today to be better. “Do today what others won’t, to do tomorrow what others can’t.” (A code of the US Navy Seals.)

6.)  Success is the aftermath of unwavering discipline, clear communication, detailed expectations, and intense preparation.

7.)  At the precipice, you have two choices:

  1. You can allow ourselves to feel defeated and let fear overtake you, cripple you, conquer you- OR
  2. You can dig deep within yourself and make up your mind, in the moment the fear hits you, that you’re going to face it head on, at full charge.

8.)  Discipline is completing with excellence that which needs to be done, when you have no desire to do so mentally, physically, or emotionally.

9.)  The strategy is the game plan to win the war. Tactics are the short-term moves that win battles. Your ability to evaluate the situation and adjust the tactics in real-time is what, ultimately, fulfills the strategy.

10.) There’s always a solution. You just have to have the will to find it and then execute it to the best of your abilities and the resources at hand.

To learn more about Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (professor in Maine prior to the war) and the decision he made on Little Round Top, which was later awarded the Medal of Honor, click here.

Excerpt taken from, Through Angel’s Eyes: “The life memoirs of WWII veteran, Angel Banuelos, and his impact on my life as a mentor and best friend,” by David Parsons (on book shelves Fall 2013).

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