10 Lessons on Business from General Custer

How to Avoid Your Own Last Stand.

With the recent story breaking about the Flag from Custer’s last stand selling at $2.2 million, I found some great “lessons learned” that can help us to avoid his same mistakes, whether it be on a literal battlefield or in the market of competition in business and career.

At the same time, let’s not forget that failure is an integral part of success, when it’s reviewed, digested and used to actually shape future decisions.  I was once told by a successful entrepreneur that the best way to have a successful business is to fail at three others.

So what can we learn from the Battle of the Little Big Horn to help us avoid our own ‘last stand’?  Here is my every day interpretation of 10 reasons why Custer was defeated.

  1. Never act alone.  Leaders never succeed by themselves. Leverage the support, resources and wisdom of those around you.
  2. Avoid professional and organizational fatigue.  There is nothing like driving so hard for an objective, only to achieve a Pyrrhic victory. Remember, man was not made for business, but business was made for man.
  3. Harness the power of focus.  Multitasking is a farce. Don’t spread yourself or your organizational energy too thin.  Focus everything on what’s most important, knock it out, then move on to the next most important goal.
  4. Expect everything – that way you will always get what you expected.  Somewhere, there is a kid with a laptop starting a business that will blow you out of the water if she gets the chance.
  5. Don’t get outnumbered. Keep your networks and circles of influence growing. In this increasingly networked world, you draw instant power from your ability to move thousands through social media.
  6. Don’t ignore the advice of others, especially your customers and constituents. Build your own meta-knowledge.
  7. Never go up against someone named ‘Crazy Horse”. It just sounds suicidal to begin with.
  8. Fight every battle like it’s your last stand. It just might be.
  9. Be determined. No matter the circumstances that face you, remember the Stockdale Paradox.
  10. You can never have too much information; about the customer, about the competition, about the performance of your product or service, about your own people and your own organization.
Don’t underestimate others.
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