Bit gloomy in the ATX, but who doesn’t like a few clouds? So, I have been reading several interesting books about the American Revolution. Two of my favorites are Ron Chernow’s biographies on Washington and Hamilton. They are both worth a read. I have read them both at least three times, but I learn something new every time I re-read them.
If you think these are beach books, plan on at least three months at the beach.
In both of them, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton come up for detailed scrutiny of their role at the First Battle of Trenton whereat George Washington undertook a Christmas Day, double envelopment, river crossing and attack on the Hessians in Trenton. It has been recognized as one of the most audacious military strokes in the history of the world.
Washington, having been beaten across Long Island, Manhattan, New Jersey, was hiding behind the Delaware River without a single victory to his credit. He was looking for a win and came up with one Hell of a plan.
Hamilton commanded a battery of guns that crossed and figured prominently in the rout of a brigade (three regiments) of Hessians, who had never lost a single battle on this continent. Many do not realize that Hamilton was a skilled artillery commander before he became an aide to Washington.
I conclude — not an original thought — that this was a GREAT MOMENT, an instant wherein the fate of the world was determined. If the Americans didn’t win at Trenton, perhaps the Continental Army and the state militias disappear and the American Revolution is snuffed out. This peril is what drove Washington to take such a risk.
Luckily it ended with the Hessian commander surrendering to Washington, but that was not the end of the story.
After all, we were facing the largest and most powerful army and navy in the world and we were just farmers though we had inspired leadership in the person of George Washington.
This period of time came to be known as the Ten Crucial Days and embraced the First Battle of Trenton, the Second Battle of Trenton, and the Battle of Princeton.
On a smaller scale in the startup world there are other Great Moments:
1. The formulation of an idea that just might work;
2. Arriving at an alpha test of your product;
3. Arriving at a beta test of your product;
4. Arriving at a Minimum Viable Product;
5. Launching — going live;
6. Raising funding necessary to breathe life into your product;
7. Attaining your 100th customer;
8. Booking your $1,000,000th dollar of revenue; and,
9. Realizing you did this. You built a real company.
You may add those milestones that are unique to you, but I urge you to keep a list of these Great Moments both to track your progress and to celebrate your success.
You may not give birth to a nation, defeat the British regulars at Trenton and Princeton, and preserve the most noble sense of freedom ever spoken — but you have to start somewhere. George Washington was in his 40’s when he got the job as Commander-in-Chief. Before that he was an entrepreneur just like you.