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Claremont McKenna Athenaeum Leadership Essay: George Washington

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Dec 30, 2012   #1
I would appreciate any suggestions you have on wording and content.

If you could invite anyone to speak at the Athenaeum, who would you choose and why?

If I could invite anyone to give a speech at the Athenaeum speaker series on leadership, I propose George Washington.
Now, you might have some reservations toward my decision. In our modern world, what we look for in our leaders is authenticity and openness, traits that allow us to see their humanity, and truly gain an appreciation for their accomplishments. Washington does not exactly fit that bill. Back in the battlefields of the war of independence-when opposing soldiers stared each other down and intimidation could inflict greater harm on an army than bullets-one of the qualities of a successful leader was the ability to lead by example: to stand firm with a straight face under a hail of fire and provide the steady reassurance that the troops needed to keep up the fight. Generals and statesmen who adopted this style of leadership, like George Washington, kept their inner thoughts and feelings hidden from their subordinates under an impenetrable shell. So when the modern citizens of America see glimpses of Washington's shell- the tale that Washington never told a lie or depictions of his stern face etched in marble-they dismiss the man as either one dimensional or a fabricated national mascot, and do not care to look any further. However, a look underneath that shell will reveal a human being marred by imperfections but gifted by a series of timeless leadership traits. Among these were the ability to learn from mistakes, the ability to adapt to new circumstances, and the drive to overcome almost impossible adversity. Most important to the revolutionary cause, Washington possessed the capacity to bring differing and independently minded men together for accomplishing a common goal. Even after the troops endured staggering defeats, months without pay, hunger, and cold, setbacks that could easily break apart professional European armies, Washington kept the continental army, and the entire revolutionary cause, from falling apart. We are in his infinite debt, as Washington was both the solitary man standing between an infant of a country and the unhinged might of a world empire. Only when we learn from his methods of leadership can we begin to repay him.
WonderlandPlan 2 / 6 1  
Dec 31, 2012   #2
I think you've written it really well!
Perhaps though you could offer a slightly more balanced view by saying he did have his weaknesses as does any leader, but then mentioning you would pick him because he rose above his weaknesses or something?

Just a thought (:

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