Feeling demoralized by a larger competitor? Consider how General Washington outfoxed the Redcoats.


Hessian Soldiers

When it appears that you’re down for the count, it’s time to show courage and take risks. Consider General George Washington, during the American Revolutionary War. The British, who had a large, well-trained army, were continuing to defeat Washington and his men. Washington badly needed a victory, for there was a real danger of his recruits simply abandoning the army and returning home.


Washington saw an opportunity to begin to turn the tide of the war, but it would involve daring action. His plan was to cross the Delaware River by dead of night and to attack the Hessian troops, who were mercenaries of the British. It involved a high degree of risk, because for one thing it was the dead of winter and many of his men were without shoes. Furthermore, sitting in their boats, Washington and his men could have

been easy targets, if they were spotted.


What came to be known as the Battle of Trenton resulted in a total victory for Washington and his army. Besides capturing almost all of the Hessian soldiers (about 900 of them), they captured a good deal of guns, cannons, munitions and other supplies. Most importantly, the victory significantly boosted moral and resulted in an increase in enlistment for Washington’s revolutionary army.


The lesson here is that at times of crisis, it’s necessary to take risks. But there are other lessons here as well: it’s vital — in warfare and in business — to utilize the element of surprise, as did General Washington. It’s also important to aim at the enemy’s (or one’s competitor’s) weaknesses. The Hessian forces, drunk and asleep, after having consumed a Christmas dinner, was certainly a weakness and Washington exploited it beautifully.


Apropos, is the legendary baseball player, Wee Willie Keeler, who was famous for the phrase, “I hit ‘em where they ain’t.” Management Guru, Peter Drucker, discusses that notion as a business strategy in his book “Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” Drucker recommends searching for an area that your competitors are not servicing, i.e., “where they ain’t.” Most often, your competitors aren’t even aware that a gap had existed, until you fill it. Like General Washington, you have to “hit em where they ain’t.”


Do you have a business, career, or personal problem? Need an innovative solution? Dr. Mark Dillof utilizes powerful insights from philosophy, psychology, literature & history! Call him at 1-888-737-5724 or e-mail Dr. Dillof today to set up a free exploratory session.


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