Story ‣ What Did You Do Next?

One day a field marshal requested an audience with Napoleon, and Napoleon knew what was coming.

But as every good leader must, Napoleon agreed to hear him out.

The field marshal brought news of a great victory he had achieved. He talked for a long time about his accomplishment, piling detail upon detail.

Napoleon listened closely throughout the entire narration, but said nothing.

The officer was disappointed. He had hoped for a more enthusiastic reception, as well as Napoleon’s congratulations. Neither was forthcoming.

Summing up, the marshal repeated much of what he had already stated.

As the officer rambled on, Napoleon continued to listen politely, and the marshal interpreted this as encouragement. Surely, he thought, Napoleon will now give me the praise I so richly deserve.

When the marshal finally stopped talking, Napoleon asked him one question: “What did you do the next day?”

The field marshal was speechless. But the lesson was not lost on him.

From then on, the officer understood that he should never rest on his laurels. So he left it to others to bestow the praise.