I am going to start my list of Top 10 General Patton quotes by cheating and give you all a freebie:
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
The entire world should thank God that George Patton lived. The entire world is better off for it.
We need more people like Patton. The world and our country need more men like him. I have always believed that he was one of those people in world history who was absolutely born for a cause; and he found that cause. He existed in history at the most perfect timing; he was exactly what the world needed at that moment.
While Patton was forged and built for war, his battlefield wisdom is still applicable to all of us today. His colorful language and salty demeanor speak of his honesty and genuineness. We also need more of that these days, as well.
Those of us who have served in the U.S. military will always hold a special place in our hearts for General Patton. And those who have never served will also gain insight and powerful advice from his quotes for whatever life brings.
Here’s another awesome freebie for our civilian brothers in arms, fed up with Corporate America™:
“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
Remind everyone of that in your next staff meeting when everyone pats themselves on the back for their next stupid idea, totally devoid of any creativity at all. Especially when everyone is afraid to speak up.
Top 10 Quotes by General Patton
There are hundreds of quotes attributed to Patton. Narrowing them down is no easy task. From the hilarious to the vulgar to the profound, there are certainly many freaking awesome quotes to choose from. While most people will never find themselves on the battlefield, the wisdom in these quotes will certainly inspire everyone — whatever their profession. We need this inspiration today, more than ever.
10) ‘The Object of War Is Not to Die for Your Country but to Make the Other Bastard Die for His’
This is one of Patton’s most famous quotes. It’s even featured in the opening monologue in the movie Patton, which won an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1970 (as well as six more Oscars). I am choosing to place it here at number 10 not because it’s not as famous as others, but because most people will never have that experience. Yet, it is worth putting on the list and starting off strong.
The profound wisdom in this quote is found in its simplicity. Patton’s point is to ensure people take measures not to die, rather than taking too much to heart the idea of dying for one’s country.
Sound like anyone we know today?
9) ‘By Perseverance, Study, and Eternal Desire, Any Man Can Become Great’
The ninth and the eighth quotes of General Patton are related.
8) ‘If a Man Does His Best, What Else Is There?’
In today’s increasingly collectivist society, one where personal responsibility and ownership are more and more lacking, this is a valuable lesson. We see too often blame being cast upon other groups, and one’s personal failures or lack of success being placed on flaws in society.
This is part of the great promise in this country, that every man and woman, can become great. The potential exists. Don’t let anyone take that away from you or tell you otherwise.
7) ‘I Don’t Measure a Man’s Success by How High He Climbs but How High He Bounces When He Hits Bottom’
While we’re at it, let’s continue riffing on that theme.
Everyone experiences failure. It’s as much a part of life as breathing. Most people probably will experience more failures than success, even once they’ve reached success. Many of us have had dark times and dark moments in life.
Like many other people, and many other veterans, I’ve had dark low moments. Yet, the stronger lessons and memories for me have not been the low points. Rather, it’s the bouncing back. And this makes it poignant. There is victory in the climb.
6) ‘When There Is Fear of Failure, There Will Be Failure’
Therefore, never be afraid to fail.
Don’t attract failure. Don’t give it any weight. It’s going to happen. For sure, at some moment, it’s coming. Whether in combat or in life, you will see it. Know it, and then forget it. Just go for it.
5) ‘Never Tell People How to Do Things. Tell Them What to Do and They Will Surprise You With Their Ingenuity’
The above is one of my favorite quotes from my military days and one I use every day in Corporate America™ for my teams, as well.
It benefits me at work, every single day. No leader can be successful without a successful team. No team will be successful without good people. Put those good people in place, and then trust them — and allow them — to do their job.
4) ‘Do Not Try to Make Circumstances Fit Your Plans. Make Plans That Fit the Circumstances’
Adapt or die. Failure to adapt kills teams on the battlefield and in the business world. Many people and companies are so stuck and set in their ways, all they can see is where they’ve been or where they are. I work for one of the biggest and most interesting companies in the world. I am constantly surprised at the lack of innovation and how slow they are at adapting at the tactical level. It’s like turning a battleship. Or worse. It’s slow and painful. My always wise and grumpy drill sergeant would tell us, “Maintain a rigid state of flexibility.”
3) ‘A Good Plan Violently Executed Now Is Better Than a Perfect Plan Executed Next Week’
Sometimes, we don’t have the luxury of time. Or time to make the perfect plan — even if the perfect plan could even exist.
2) ‘Lead Me, Follow Me, or Get Out of My Way’
I put this quote at number two even though it could easily be at number one. It speaks perfectly and accurately to the psyche and personality of General Patton. This mentality is how he helped to shape and win a war and save an entire continent. It is the recipe for success.
1) ‘Moral Courage Is the Most Valuable and Usually the Most Absent Characteristic in Men’
Here we are at number one. Why did I choose this quote as the number one, in the top 10 quotes by General Patton? Is it the most famous? Is it the most inspirational on the battlefield? Not necessarily. I chose it because it’s powerful and true.
The absence of moral courage is killing us in the world today.
Society is becoming more and more bankrupt of people with moral courage. This applies on a national scale. Patton saw it then, and many of us see it today. As it gets worse, we need the reminder.
Patton also said, “Courage is fear holding on a little longer.” Be courageous. Be morally courageous.
We should strive to win this battle of life. Don’t quit; don’t give up. “Make the other poor, dumb bastard” be the one to lose.
Battlefield Wisdom™ is the best wisdom.