Working Backwards

Working backwards means visioning what you want, determining the steps needed to get there and then implementing them.

George Washington was head of the Continental Army during an eight year war that led to the independence of the United States.

There were many problems with the army such as insufficient troops, arms, and munitions.

Many of the soldiers went unpaid. These problems lead to a high desertion rate.

To defeat the British, Washington would require respect from his troops. Military troops respond well to a strong and respected leader.

To gain the respect of his troops Washington determined he must first gain respect from the British military. If they respected him, then his troops would.

Washington was already known as a gentleman by the British. However, to gain further respect he insisted on being addressed in all letters from the British as General Washington. If a letter wasn’t addressed in this manner, he wouldn’t accept it. Washington achieved his point and won the respect of the British and of his troops.

The concept Washington used to gain respect from both the British and American troops is called act as if. #1

Let’s review:

• Washington’s goal was to win the war with the British.
• Washington worked backwards to determine to have chance of winning the war with the British he first needed to get the respect his troops
• Washington acted as if he deserved respect from the British.
• Washington’s troops then respected him and followed him into battle with resolve.
• Washington and the Continental Army defeated the British.


“Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”—George Washington


#1 Curt Schleier, President George Washington Founding Father: His sense of duty, honor set the standard for the nation. Investors Business Daily, February 21, 2006.

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