Damn the Torpedoes! Full Speed Ahead!

Admiral David Glasgow Farragut

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome. – Samuel Johnson

In other words, you can always find a reason not to do something, or a reason why you won’t succeed, or why your best-laid plan can’t work. The trick is to ignore most of them. I say “most” because, quite frankly, sometimes there are valid reasons why something won’t work. I can plan to jump off a cliff in my underwear and fly, but unless I suddenly sprout wings, my maiden flight will be an abject and utter failure. (Not to mention, unattractive. In my underwear? *shudder*).

molehillThe problem isn’t the valid reasons; it’s that we make up silly excuses why we can’t reach our goals. In fact, sometimes we even go looking for reasons our plans are doomed to failure. Or we find little obstacles, and build them up in our minds until they look like Mt. Everest. Why? Because, deep down inside, we’ve already convinced ourselves we’re going to fail. But sometimes, the only reason we fail is because we don’t try. We talk ourselves out of whatever plan we’ve made before we even take the first step.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” It’s a paraphrased version of what was said by then Admiral David Glasgow Farragut as he led a fleet of Union ships into the last major naval battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Mobile Bay.

The bay was heavily defended by Confederate forces, and was known to have a field of submerged floating mines—torpedoes, as they were then called—across the entrance. Most sensible naval commanders would not have attempted to enter the bay knowing this. (Ah, there’s the excuse.) Farragut, however, had ordered a reconnaissance mission to investigate the bay. Using the intelligence gathered from that mission, he believed there were fewer mines than originally thought, and that most of the remaining mines had been submerged too long to still be a threat.

Even though one of the Union ships was destroyed by a mine, Farragut still gave his famous order, which resulted in the Union winning the battle and taking Mobile Bay. Now, he could have said, “Well, there are mines across the entrance to the bay, so this plan won’t work.”

He didn’t.

Instead of accepting the minefield as an impassable barrier, he decided they weren’t going to stop him and his fleet. Instead of seeing a reason they would fail, he ordered his fleet to advance, and won the day. The “problem” of the mines, wasn’t as great an obstacle as they originally thought.

Most of the obstacles we see when we’re making our plans and setting our goals may seem almost insurmountable. But before you just accept that conclusion, do some investigation and research. Find a way to overcome the problem, or get around it. Maybe, just maybe, after a little investigation, you’ll find that the mountain is really just a molehill after all.

There will always be bumps in the road. Just don’t let them stop you.

Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

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