Benedict became the way…

Well, Nathaniel’s done it again. The author of Mayflower, In the Heart of the Sea, and a handful of other well researched, historical gems, has once again caused me to think. His latest rant Valiant Ambition, takes us through the life of Benedict Arnold, the good, bad, and ugly. Benedict was a stud general. He was fearless to the point of careless. He won early battles and inspired many. He was competent beyond question. However, George Washington was so blinded by Benedict’s battlefield behavior that he missed the character deficits. The Continental Congress and General Gates missed it too.

Good. Yes, good. Here’s why…

The unintended consequence in 1780 when Benedict betrayed America for his love of, well what else, money, wasn’t what Clinton or Lord Cornwallis imagined. Instead of Benedicts intelligence turning the war further toward the Brits, Benedicts betrayal woke us up. You see, prior to his unthinkable lapse of judgement, the Continental Congress was all hung up on money. George Washington was begging and begging the politicians to pay our warriors. Nobody wanted to pay for a standing army. So, we let our finest starve! We turned against George III because he was taxing our bunnies but couldn’t quite see the irony in not paying our warriors. Yeah, before Benedicts betrayal, the American people were divided and acting like 13 colonies, not one. Nobody wanted to be inconvenienced till Benedict went and did the unthinkable.

The unintended consequence of Benedict Arnold’s betrayal was it woke us up and got us thinking differently about this freedom thing. Instead of a bunch of fractured, self absorbed individuals fighting the Brits, 13 colonies stopped fighting each other, Continental Congress stopped fighting with George, and George’s Army of the North stopped fighting local militiamen/women. We came together.  We won. We ONE.

So leader, think about whatever obstacle stands in your way. Maybe, just maybe, your obstacle is your way to turn both you and your team into ONE. Throughout history, the unintended consequences of bad events, betrayals, and all kinda sabotages have been catalysts for greatness. Marcus Aurelius once said, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Sit with this one for awhile, leader. Slow down. Reflect. Maybe your obstacle is the way. Good…

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