2.5 million people.
That was the population of the United States at the time of the Revolutionary War in 1776.
During that first year of the war, the citizens of the new country were excited, patriotic and strongly supported the war.
But that didn’t last very long.
When it became apparent that the war would drag on indefinitely, popular support waned.
Most people were able to go back to life as normal and they did. The Continental Congress was weak and did little to raise troops, money and supplies.
But the small army, usually less than 10,000, marched on.
They followed their Chief even when wracked with disease, lacking shoes, blankets and even the most basics of food.
They followed him across the icy Delaware, late at night in the middle of a snow storm.
The snow was colored red by blood from their feet – wrapped in rags because they had no shoes.
Washington was furious to see his troops sacrifice so much for the nation – with so little reciprocation, acknowledgment or appreciation.
But he fought on. And his people followed him. And the world was forever changed.
Today is Washington’s Birthday.
It’s a good time for every entrepreneur to remember the story of George Washington and his small but stubborn army.
You, too, are out there every day. You know that there are many people who will benefit greatly if they’d follow your lead. If they buy your product or invest in your service.
And some do. But most don’t. And they never will.
History shows us a remarkable pattern: Leaders with character who had the best interests of their followers at heart; who sacrificed tremendously and selflessly, were almost always unappreciated and even vilified by the very people they worked so hard to set free.
Washington’s story should encourage us all.
He was a man with an idea. With beliefs about what was right and what was wrong. And he was willing to sacrifice his own comfortable home life and spend years on the battlefield for what he believed was right.
A few followed him. Most stood by and watched.
But in the end, today we recognize his greatness, foresight and sacrifice for we who came later.
Washington’s army was small, but his impact was monumental.
You don’t need every sale. You don’t need every customer. You don’t need every client. Most will never appreciate what you can do for them – and that you really do care.
Your guiding ideas must be clear in your own mind. What you believe is right and wrong. What and who is worth fighting against and sacrificing for.
Today let’s remember that nothing great is achieved without tremendous effort and sacrifice. You’ll be called upon to do all sorts of things that the people around you will never do.
But in the end, you’ll also have a story to tell. And your story will be told, often by the very people who failed to recognize who you really were.
I invite you to share your reflections and experiences in a comment below.