Lose The Battle, Yet Win The War

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There was a particular day in my life where I found myself battling to identify the next steps I should take in regards to some projects that I was working on when I was reminded of the storyboards that are designed for feature movies. These are hand drawn pictures of each of the frames of a film that are created before it is ever filmed. These storyboards are used to guide the director as to how best set up the greatest shots that will finally appear in the film. It is the visual plan for the movie.

Then I spent a weekend reading the final volume written by Sir Winston Churchill about the  final years of the 2nd world war. The overriding impression I received as I read it was that the allies knew exactly when they were going to win the war. And although it didn’t always go according to plan the fact was that they had a plan – and would make adjustments to the plan as they went. Churchill, along with the American and Russian leaders that worked closely with him, knew when Hitler’s and the Japanese nation’s demise was going to happen. And they then continued to work towards the fulfillment of that plan. They never considered the possibility of defeat. It was a detailed and well executed plan that we can now read in the history books.

And then I was reminded of the last two years that I spent at school as a teenager. I studied science which consisted of three areas – physics, chemistry and biology. For the bulk of those two years – before my finals – I failed every single test in Physics and Chemistry. But through sheer persistence and hard work I passed with flying colors when it was really needed. The irony of it all was that I was accepted in to university to study Science. I may have lost many a battle along the way, but I won the war.

And life is very much like that. I know for a fact that throughout my lifetime there are innumerable battles that I have lost – but my concentration is not on the battles. I want to make sure that I position myself so that at the end of my life I will be able to clearly declare – and it will be proved by the legacy that I leave behind – that I have in fact won the war.

It is for that reason that I never compare myself to others who seem to be able to win battle after battle after battle. And that is where I am reminded of the following story of men who may have won the battle – but ultimately lost the war.

In 1923 a group of our greatest leaders and richest businessmen held a meeting at the Edgewater Beach hotel in Chicago. Among them were Charles Schwab, head of the largest independent steel company; Samuel Insull, president of the world’s largest utility; Howard Hopson, head of the largest gas company; Ivar Kreuger president of the International Match Co., one of the largest companies at the time; Leon Frazier, president of the Bank of International Settlements; Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange; Arthur Cotton and Jesse Livermore, two of the biggest stock speculators; and Albert Fall, a member of President Harding’s cabinet. Twenty five years later nine of them(those listed above) ended as follows. Schwab died penniless after living for five years on borrowed money. Insull died broke living in a foreign land. Krueger and Cotton also died broke. Hopson went insane. Whitney and Albert Fall were released from prison. Fraser and Livermore committed suicide.*

So don’t be overwhelmed if you lose another battle. Learn from the battle and take that new-found knowledge into the next battle. But never consider the possibility of defeat and you will join the glorious ranks of those who have gone before you – those who won the war.

* Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert  T. Kyosaki P.50

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