Fight Like a Greek. Lead Like Alexander. Part 1

Inspiration and instinct in the face of overwhelming odds

The year was 331 BC, Alexander The Great was leading his army across the desert to face the most powerful emperor of his time, Darius III of Persia. His army was thousands of miles from home, they had been victorious in many battles, and they were tired.

Darius was waiting for them. He had cleared a battlefield for his chariots. He had war elephants, along with twice as many soldiers as the Greeks. The situation was dire. When the Greeks arrived at the battlefield near Arbela, the Persian army was ready for them, they stood waiting for an attack.

Alexander’s generals had intended to attack at night.

Alexander wanted to defeat Darius in the daylight, except his generals felt strongly about the advantage they could take in the dark. Alexander had a gut feeling: he didn’t agree with them. This was his to be his first lucky break (or was it his first great decision?). He told them they would attack in the morning.

As the sun set, Darius’ soldiers expected the Greeks to attack in the darkness. So the Persians stayed up all night, on alert.
In the morning, the Greek army found Darius safely behind his Royal Guard, the “Immortals,” war elephants, chariots, horses, and approximately 100,000 men. It was a formidable sight.

In spite of that, the Greeks woke refreshed, confident in their King’s ability to lead them, and devoted to his cause. As Alexander led his troops across the smooth plain, he wore conspicuous bright armor. He led from the front of his army, in the most dangerous position. They knew they were headed into danger, but took courage from their king and commander as he shared that danger with them.


As I think about this scene, I see Alexander do three key things that improved his odds greatly when facing this challenge:
1. He inspired his men with his vision, they believed in him.
2. Alexander trusted his gut in waiting until morning, letting the Persians tire through the night.
3. Alexander led from the front. He faced this challenge with his men.


We can do the same things in our organizations, and in our lives:
1. Believe in what you do and share it with those around you.
2. Trust your gut, after doing your research.
3. Lead from the front. Join your team when facing challenging times, over communicate with them. Let them face your challenges with you as well.


This story continues in my next post…


What can you do to inspire others with your vision?




Twenty Decisive Battles of the World, Lt.Col Joseph B. Mitchell & Sir Edward Creasy


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