Motivation: Shoveling Sh** in Louisiana

[May 12, 2019] Yes, I had a job in Junior High School shoveling shit in Louisiana; cow manure to be specific. The line “shoveling shit in Louisiana” was made famous as a vulgar line used by U.S. General George S. Patton in a motivation speech to his troops on June 5th, 1944 (the day before D-Day).1

The speech was meant to encourage Patton’s troops to be real fighters in the battle against the Nazi war machine; which was about to begin in Europe the next day. You can read the entire speech in the link at the bottom of this article or see it on YouTube as part of a movie when George C. Scott played Patton in the movie (see YouTube link here, 6:08 minutes). This was a true motivation speech.

“There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you WON’T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, “Well, your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana.” No, Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, “Son, your Granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a Son-of-a-Goddamned-Bitch named Georgie Patton!” – from U.S. Army General George S. Patton’s real speech

Psychologists say that motivation comes both from those things that pull us toward a goal (something great or wonderful) and by those things that push us toward a goal (something bad or scary). Well, I can say that shoveling shit is something that none of us aspire to do. It was one of those things that made me think real hard about what I did with my life. What I knew was that I didn’t want to shovel cow manure. Years later I joined the U.S. Army.

If you aspire to do well in life or as a leader, you need to identify what you want to achieve; or at least have a good idea of what you want to do (the pull). You also should identify what you believe to be the worst possible situation for your future self (the push). I believe that is why men do so many dangerous, outside jobs. The fear of being seen as weak or effeminate is a motivator for men.

Leadership can also be viewed this way. Identifying those things that motivate a person to be a better leader is something we should all do. When we internalize what it takes to go where only successful people go, we are on the path toward also being successful. There are leader tools we can use, but it’s the motivation that ultimately matters most.


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

19 thoughts on “Motivation: Shoveling Sh** in Louisiana

  1. Wesley Brown

    “Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” ― Zig Ziglar, Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World

    1. Kenny Foster

      Good article you referenced. Thank you.

  2. Eddie Ray Anderson, Jr.

    Lots of theories out there on what motivation is and is not. The theories are helpful to understand but it is the application that ultimately matters most.

  3. Albert Ayer

    Happy Mother’s Day!!! To all the mothers reading this article today, we are sorry that it might have offended you but it is necessary to keep our men on the right path. This article was blunt and went straight to the point. Thanks.

    1. Mark Evans

      Yes, Happy Mothers Day. I’ll be taking my wife out to dinner and a movie; just what she wants. But I’ll be thinking about what Patton said.

  4. Nick Lighthouse

    I was sipping coffee this morning when reading your blog and opened this article. I nearly spit my coffee out my nose but caught myself. Thanks for an inspiring write up today.

  5. Greg Heyman

    Motivation is the key to all this discussion. Leader must themselves be motivated but they also must motivate others. How to motivate is not easy; it can easily go astray. Learning the best techniques of motivating others is a skill never forgotten and always in high demand. Great blog post today.

    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      Motivation might be extrinsic, whereby a person is inspired by outside forces—other people or things that transpire. Motivation might be intrinsic, whereby the inspiration comes from within a person. High achievers, who have outsized stores of motivation, readily feed their needs of a meaningful life.

      1. Fred Weber

        The forces that lie beneath motivation can be biological, social, emotional, or cognitive in nature.

    2. Lynn Pitts

      So what is motivation, exactly? The author Steven Pressfield has a great line in his book, The War of Art, which I think gets at the core of motivation. To paraphrase Pressfield, “At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.”

  6. Gil Johnson

    Three cheers for Gen. Satterfield’s article today. One of the best. Now I understand better why you went into the Army; better to be a soldier than shoveling shit in Louisiana.

  7. Willie Shrumburger

    Bring back the warriors like Patton. Show people what it means to have an army that is feared by everyone. Only by doing that will terrorism stop and the world return to beating itself up but not at our expense.

    1. Scotty Bush

      So very true. Thanks Willie. You are right on target with this comment.

  8. Dale Paul Fox

    Our military has become too politically correct by all the senior-most leaders and weak politicians that they report to. Kick out the effete deadwood from the US military and we will never be defeated.

  9. Georgie M.

    That speech was great! I felt like cheering at the end!

  10. Jerry C. Jones

    Great speech by Gen. Patton. Thanks for reminding me. I reread the speech and it made me proud to know that there were men like Patton that played a critical role in winning WWII.

    1. Maureen S. Sullivan

      Cool! I’m sending this out too, my more prudish friends will cringe, but I don’t care. We NEED a man like Georgie Patton now!

    2. Ronny Fisher

      George Patton – hero of the ages, blatant vulgarism and all.

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