Planning and Organizing

George was born in Uniontown, PA.  He went to college at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and finished in the middle of his class academically.  He was first in his class in military discipline.

When the U.S. entered WW I, George helped oversee the plans for moving U.S. forces to France for the war effort.  George was the key officer in planning military operations to defeat Germany.

After WWI was over, George continued to play a major role in military planning.  His work was instrumental in developing military leaders for WW II.  George was promoted to Brigadier General although there were 1800 officers who were senior to him.

George remained in Washington DC during WW II at the insistence of President Roosevelt who said:  “I don’t think I could sleep at ease if you were out of Washington.”  George became the planner and organizer for the combined war effort while his protégé, Dwight Eisenhower, was the actual commander of the allied forces.  George became the first five-star General in U.S. history.

After the war, George became the U.S. Secretary of State.  Under his leadership, a plan was created to rebuild the economies of Europe.  President Truman insisted the plan be named for George.  The Marshall plan became one of the most successful international missions ever undertaken by the U.S.

It’s interesting to look back at the accomplishments of George Marshall, the student who finished in the middle of his college class.

  • Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army
  • S. Secretary of State
  • President of the American Red Cross
  • S. Secretary of Defense
  • Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal

The ability to plan and organize is an essential trait of leadership.  Intelligence can be a great asset in achieving academic status, but intelligence alone has limits if one lacks the ability to think ahead, plan for contingencies, and have the discipline to make things work as planned. (Dwight Eisenhower also graduated in the middle of his class.)

Is the ability to plan and organize a trainable skill?  It is, but it can only be fully developed when circumstances force you to become a planner and organizer.  Those who can succeed based upon sheer intelligence may never have been forced to develop the planning/organizing skills they will need to become leaders.

It’s interesting to speculate about why so many success traits are based upon skills that you acquire through necessity and experience and not through formal education.

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“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”   – Ben Franklin

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