Never Underestimate the Power of Resolve
In 1519, Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés landed with a fleet of twelve ships near the present day city of Veracruz, Mexico. With a flotilla of less than one thousand soldiers, a dozen horses and a few cannons, Cortés’ set about to conquer the wealthy and powerful Aztec Empire.
One audacious act sealed Cortés’ reputation forever. Before launching his campaign, it was reported that he burned or ran aground his ships to prevent his men from considering retreat. As Peter Block, the author of The Answer to How Is Yes, said, “As long as we wish for safety, we will have difficulty pursuing what matters.”
Do You Waffle? Unfortunately, I often find myself in the position of a certain Biblical character. Peter once got out of a boat and miraculously began walking on water. Soon however, his focus shifted from doing the impossible, to the high winds and waves around him and he waffled. Then he began to sink. He forgot an earlier lesson that, “Putting your hands to the plow and looking back,” would be considered a disqualifier.
Most of the individuals, who have shaped history, possessed this quality of un-waffling resolve. Winston Churchill’s favorite poem was penned by Longfellow. It gives some insight as to why he was able to steer England through her darkest hour. “Trust no future, however pleasant! (Because we have no guarantees about what the future holds). Let the dead past, bury its dead! Act, -act in the living present! Heart within and God overhead.”
There’s a Balance It is not that “risk analysis” and “risk management” don’t play an important role in our strategic plans. We all have seen the peril that occurs when markets and individuals throw off restraints, for the thrill of what seems to be an immediate reward.
M. Scott Peck described his lesson about the importance of curbing our passions from a bicycle accident he suffered as a youth. “About a mile from our house the road went down a steep hill and turned sharply at the bottom. Coasting down the hill one morning, I felt my gathering speed to be ecstatic. To give up this ecstasy by applying brakes, seemed an absurd self-punishment.. I resolved to retain my speed and negotiate the corner. My euphoria ended seconds later when I was propelled a dozen feet off the road into the woods. I was not willing to suffer the pain of giving up my intoxicating speed, in order to maintain my balance around the corner. I learned, memorably, the loss of balance is ultimately more painful than the giving up…required to maintain balance.”
However, there is another kind of pain; it is the pain of regret which comes because we didn’t try or because we gave up on our dream. The famous artist Dante Rossetti was once approached by an elderly gentleman, who asked him to evaluate the quality of his drawings. Rossetti opened the portfolio and realized immediately that they showed little potential. Being a kind, but honest man, Rossetti gently told the man that the pictures were of little value. Though disappointed the man was not surprised and apologizing for taking the artist’s time. But he asked him to look over a second portfolio belonging to a young artist. Rossetti did and was surprised commenting, “These are very good, this young man has real talent.” Seeing the old man was deeply moved, he asked if they were his son’s. “No” he replied, “They are mine, from years ago, but I became discouraged and gave up — too soon.”
A respected author and speaker, Eric Wright is the assignment and copy editor for Spacecoast Business magazine and the founder and pastor of Journey Church in Suntree. www.journeychurchsuntree.com
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