General George S. Patton served in the United States Army for almost 40 years. Most well-known for his leadership through World War II and his role in commanding the invasion of Normandy, General Patton earned a spot as one of the most famous generals in United States history. Before he served as a general though, he had to go through extensive military training at the West Point military academy. It was here that General Patton’s dream of becoming a general was almost stopped, but not because of the brutal physical trials. General Patton had severe dyslexia, a learning disability that affected his grades so much he almost didn’t graduate.

It wasn’t until General Patton was eleven years old that he learned to read and write, and his years of schooling prior to West Point were by no means good ones. He did poorly in most subjects growing up, coined “lazy” and an “idiot” by his classmates. Patton never let his poor reading and writing skills affect his drive and hope of becoming a United States general though, and even once told his nephew that spelling a word the same way over and over again is nothing special, “but it calls for imagination and is much more distinguished to be able to spell it several different ways as I do”.

The first year at West Point was the most brutal for General Patton. He failed the end-of-year mathematics exam and was formally expelled before being allowed to re-enter with the next year’s class of first years. The following years at the military academy were very trying for him, and he struggled to maintain the grades necessary to remain enrolled. Opposite of the academics, the physical and athletic requirements at West Point were a challenge General Patton excelled at. By the end of his fifth and final year, he had set a new school record in the 220-yard hurdles, received “Expert” marks for his rifle work, and excelled in swordsmanship.

General Patton’s schooling may not have highlighted his creative military brilliance and knowledge, but he never let poor grades or unsupportive classmates waver his goal of becoming a United States general. His years of service and leadership would not have been possible if he hadn’t of believed in his abilities or if he had let the rigid academic requirements bruise his goals. Dyslexia may have created many struggles for General Patton throughout his schooling, but the creativity and success-driven mindset that grew out of his dyslexia helped him rise to the United States General that he always wanted.

Read more about Patton’s trying five years at West Point and his struggle with dyslexia here.