Why Napoleon Represents Everything A Leader Shouldn't Be

napoleon bonaparte

Photo: armour Down

I am of the opinion that Napoleon Bonaparte was a vile human being.

While working on the next phase of using armour Down to empower individual servicemembers through mindfulness and exercise, I came across an essay describing the brilliance of Napoleon’s command and control structuring of the Grande Army.

Because this next phase is about sharing and receiving information on the ground as well as through the Internet I decided to look a little deeper into Napoleon’s framework.

Now, I’ll give it up to him in the sense that he did organise the technology of his time in a way that was efficient and effective, but his feelings towards the individual men who were fighting for him was repugnant.

Napoleon was once quoted as saying, “what are the deaths of a million men to me?”

Can you imagine being conscripted into an Army led by a single man that had no concern for your welfare or that of your family?

Thankfully our societies’ understanding of war has evolved.

We live in a time and under a system that, while flawed, does recognise the value of the individual servicemember and his or her family.

However, (and this is the whole point of my rant about a General who died by himself on an island of disgrace) with this higher level of respect comes a higher level of responsibility.

Who remembers Battle Dress Uniforms (BDU)? I got my first pair as a kid from my Aunt Kathy who managed a laundromat at the time.

She would give me the BDUs that were never picked up. I sold several of them to guys in my boy scout troop. This made for awesome games of capture the flag…..

Anyway, the first time I wore my BDU’s in a professional capacity, outside of basic training, was on a field trip with my reserve unit to Gettysburg.

As we were leaving the site, I stopped in the visitor centre bathroom.

ewasOn my way out I heard a little kid say, “look dad, a soldier!” and it filled me with pride.

What I will always like about BDUs over the Army Combat Uniforms (ACUs) was that you could iron them.

In other words, if your put in some work you could look ship-shape.

A starched pair of BDUs and some spit shined boots made me feel solid. ACUs were easier to manage, but they lacked that subtle touch.

After I opened up to everyone last week about my drinking, I have made it a point to get squared away in as many ways as possible.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of vegetables I’m eating now.

More importantly I’m getting that feeling again. That squared away, come what may, roger that, Hooah feeling, and I’m doing it for myself. 

Take a look at this poem Napoleon often quoted:

What is the world, O soldiers?
It is I.
I, this incessant snow, this northern sky:
Soldiers, this solitude 
Through which we go
Is I.

Napoleon is lamenting the fact that as a supreme leader it’s lonely at the top.

It must have been infinitely lonelier on that island. Can you imagine going from controlling all of mainland Europe to nothing?

Napoleon failed.

You will not.

You are the supreme leader of your life. It’s up to you to square it away.

The time is nigh.
Depart thy shame,
Reclaim thy best,
Find the rhythm,
Find your flow,
Its up to you,
Good to Go.


The 17th stanza of the Art of Peace, by founder and creator of the Martial Art Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba is:


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