In October 1777, Continental General George Washington (1732-1799) was bitterly defeated by the British in the American Revolution's Battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania.
"These are the times that try men's souls," wrote political activist Thomas Paine about the retreating troops. "He that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
After the battle, Washington moved his army to Valley Forge, keeping them together during the long, difficult winter. His faith in the American cause never faltered.
"Naked and starving as they are, we cannot sufficiently admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiers," he wrote of his troops, at the time predominantly made up of untrained volunteers.
With spirit and determination, Washington concentrated on transforming his army into a viable fighting force. Washington was a great leader and his troops loved him. One of them, Private Samuel Downing, said, "They'd sell their lives for him." By spring, Washington was ready to lead them to battle again, this time in triumphant victory.
In 1789, Washington was unanimously elected President of the United States. "Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth," he said.
In life, what might look like a loss is the very event responsible for helping to propel a major life achievement. As creator Henry Ford once explained, "A mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement."
Mistakes activate learning and success.