After the remarkable (and long shot) victory in the Revolutionary War, General George Washington was considered the greatest hero of the young republic. He risked his fame, fortune, family, and even life in taking the job leading the colonial forces. Plus, what many don’t know is that he wasn’t even paid to do it. But after the victory, he was hailed a hero, and was in a remarkable position of extraordinary power. At one point, he was even offered the job of being King of the United States – and yet he turned it all down to return to his family and a life of obscure farming. When King George III heard that Washington had turned down the offer to be King, he remarked:
“If that is true, he must be the greatest man in the world.”
The trajectory of leadership isn’t always up. Sometimes, stepping down is the greatest act of leadership. In Washington’s case, his walking away allowed a fledgling new republic to stand on it’s own, and create a nation that was represented by the people and for the people. Stepping down gave other leaders the breathing room to create the kind of democracy other nations would envy and admire.
Never close the door to stepping down or letting go at the right time. It could be the great act of leadership you’ll ever accomplish.