Gen. George Patton: Six not-so-gentle father-to-son tips

The new book, 'Growing Up Patton: Reflections on Heroes, History, and Family Wisdom,' shares letters written by Gen. George Patton to his his son. Here are six pieces of advice from these letters.

2. On conduct as a cadet: never make excuses

"As to your conduct as a cadet! You do all the getting along. Don’t talk or look smug as if it was an old story to you. Do your damndest in an ostentatious manner all the time. Make it a point to always be the best turned out plebe at any formation. Brass polished, trousers pressed, everything smart. Weapons spotless and get there on time – not just on time but well ahead of time. Never make excuses whether or not it is your fault....

"You must never knowingly infringe any regulation. You will get skinned, but they will be accidents."

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

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