“I propose to get into fortunes way.” – Arthur Wellsley (Duke of Wellington)
I just finished reading Wellington: The Years of the Sword (Duke of Wellington’s biography). Written in 1950’s by his grand niece. Fascinating.
And while there were a number of thoughtful things … this quote from Wellsley as he went to Spain to take on Napoleon (at Napoleon’s peak) is the quote that stood out for me.
Great people have to have skill <he was a master tactician and excellent leader of men>.
But they also have to have attitude.
I put this quote side by side with his senior <in age>, Lord Horatio Nelson, who said <paraphrasing> “you can do no wrong by placing yourself as close to the enemy as possible.”
Attitudinally they sought action. They sought putting themselves in situations where they would confront their enemy.
Well. Think about that. And business.
So often businesses talk about ‘white space.’ Seeking places their enemy is not.
What would happen if some business leader said “I propose to get in fortune’s way” (meaning I plan on engaging the enemy/competition)?
Have to tell ya. That sounds different. And, frankly, it sounds like something I wish more companies would do. treat business like war.
Ok. There is a time and place … and it can vary by category … but in my eyes too many companies are too nice <with regard to competitors>.
Regardless of whether you agree with that or not a business leader who would say something like this quote has a good confident attitude … with an understanding that losing is bad … really bad.
Wellsley got in fortune’s way. More often than not he gained fortune.
Nelson sought to put himself s close to the enemy as possible <fortune’s way> . More often than not he gained fortune.
History remembers the heroes. It remembers the great. Why? Because they elected to put themselves in fortune’s way.
I often believe business leaders can learn more from military than they do … this is another one of those times.