By Mark Lepper

I once heard a story, but have never been able to verify the source, but the story teller attributed it to Napoleon Bonaparte. It went something like this... A young French boy wanted desperately to join the ranks of the army of the great Napoleon Bonaparte. He was refused a position in the army because of his age, but the young lad persisted. Finally, realizing the youth would not give up, Napoleon agreed to allow the boy to be a bugler in his army, content in the knowledge that the youth would not occupy the front lines. The lad was overcome with joy and his new position beside the famous general. Battle after battle Napoleon's army swept across Europe with the young lad playing the charge at the great general's side.

Time passed and finally Napoleon's army encountered a battle where things were not going well for them. The distressed general surveyed the battle seeing his troops being cut down in battle. In desperation the general called for his bugler and demanded "Sound the retreat." The young lad's face fell as he stood motionless before the great general. Again Napoleon snapped "Sound the retreat." The young boy didn't move, he slowly lifted his head and replied, "I can't sir, you never taught me how to play a retreat." The general, seeing his army destroyed before his eyes, made a decisive move. "Then play a charge!"

The lad played the "charge" with all his might. Napoleon's army, thinking they were winning the battle rallied and won a decisive victory. The battle was won, not by great military strategy or superior military might, but because the bugler didn't know how to retreat in defeat.

Each time I reflect on this story I am personally challenged. How many times do we give up or give in because we can't see that victory really is within our reach. It's no secret that it is a tough market out there for builders, but you can survive difficult times. Those that survive will emerge even stronger and more confident in the face of the inevitable challenges that follow.