By: Steve Leland
The title phrase was a statement made in an excellent book about leadership: The Mission, The Men, And Me, by Peter Blaber. This guy is a former Delta Force commander, and this principle was his conclusion after a series of experiences he had while taking the final test for joining that elite group.
I won’t lay out all of the details, but it involved finding a way through the Appalachian Mountains for a ridiculous number of miles in an equally ridiculously short amount of time, all while carrying a rucksack that was required to exceed 70 pounds. The rumor was that it would be 40-50 miles in 17 hours, but we never got the final tally.
The salient part of the story occurred 15 hours into his ordeal when he broke a branch and fell out of the tree that he had been scouting from, landed on an animal that made terrible noises, and heard what was presumably its mother making worse noises as it was charging through the brush in his direction.
Insert mental picture of an angry mother black bear here.
Of course, Blaber beat feet in the opposite direction and soon came to the edge of a cliff that was high enough to discourage the bear from coming over. He jumped, tumbled and rolled into the river at the bottom. Looking up, he discovered that he had been chased by a pair of pigs. Not even wild hogs, just a couple of pigs that belonged to a local farmer.
After making his way out of the ravine, he discovered that he had lost his map in the fiasco. Presumably it had gone downriver. Searching for it at this point would cost him too much time and guarantee his failure, so he oriented himself by memory and proceeded to the final checkpoint. Appropriately enough, the name of this last test was the Stress Test.
So, his point is that he had overreacted to a perceived danger that almost cost him his one shot at something that he had sacrificed greatly to achieve.
The parallel that I have discovered is what I have described as “being stampeded.” It’s allowing people or circumstances to convince us to react in haste, when in reality we are being treed, or chased over a cliff, by what turns out to be a Chihuahua of a problem.
“Act in haste, repent at leisure” is another of my favorites. Often it involves the words that come out of my mouth. Having to eat your words takes a lot longer than it does to say them. Worse, some bad decisions cause us years of stress to overcome.
By: Steve Leland