Prepare For Failure: A Speech Eisenhower Never Gave

What You Say If You Fail: A Speech Eisenhower Never Gave by Gene Griessman

I don’t like to give any thought to defeat. Just thinking about failure can plant the wrong kind of ideas in my subconscious.

But I know that failure happens.

”The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft a-gley,” the poet Robert Burns wrote in 1785, “An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain/For promis’d joy.”

So I do think about contingencies, back-up plans, savers, plan Bs,

Experienced public speakers create “savers” in case there’s a heckler, if the PowerPoint doesn’t function. or if a joke bombs.

The best negotiators think about a backup offer, a fallback position.

Actors and directors have (or should have) prepared comments for the media in case they don’t win an Emmy or Oscar.

Here’s a particularly dramatic example of this concept.

The evening prior to the Normandy invasion, General Dwight Eisenhower wrote four sentences for a message that he was prepared to deliver in case the invasion failed.

Remarks prepared by General Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 5th, 1944

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. This particular operation My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.

The sheet of notepaper on which he wrote those lines (mistakenly dated July 5) remained in Eisenhower’s wallet for a month.

Eisenhower later told an aide that similar speeches were prepared before every military operation during World War II. This is the only one he kept.

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You will also enjoy Lincoln Speaks To Leaders by Gene Griessman and Pat Williams.

Don’t leave yet. You’re in a goldmine. Check out the great power phrases and unusual quotations. You’re already here. Why rush off?

 

–Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “The Words Lincoln Lived By” is in its 25th printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225.
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