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Dec 7
If you choose not to decide‚?¶‚?¶
President Roosevelt famously referred to December 7th and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as “a day which will live in infamy.”  So here we are, 64 years later. I wasn’t around then but still I remember this date with respect. It is significant to me and is clearly a defining moment in history. I hope we all are willing to take a moment in thoughtful respect of those who bore the cost of this attack with their lives.

This single act was the catalyst that prompted the United States to commit its resources and more inmportantly its will to WWII. Until Pearl Harbor, the U.S. wanted to stop Japanese expansion but the American people were not willing to go to war to stop it.  One day after the attacks of Pearl Harbor, Congress declared war on Japan and three days later declared war on Germany.

Winston Churchill once said, “I never worry about action, but only inaction.” There is a great principle of leadership in this statement. Until Pearl Harbor, U.S. leadership was frozen by the lack of public support for entering the war and by not choosing to act, bore the consequences of inaction. Roosevelt had enough votes in Congress to pass a formal declaration of war but was concerned that American citizens would be unwilling to sustain the enormous effort and sacrifice unless united in the spirit of a moral crusade. Pearl Harbor delivered that spirit at the cost of 3,500 lives.

As Rush, the 70’s band sang in Freewill, “When you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

For business leaders, inaction may not cost lives but it may certainly cost market share and perhaps bring a company to an end. Think IBM in the face of an upstart called Microsoft.

In today’s environment of technology, volatility and uncertainty, status quo is not acceptable. You must constantly be sensing and responding to the market so you can recognize threats to your market share. Adopting change, reacting to crisis, having the will to face uncertainty are all traits required of today’s leaders. If you don’t look ahead for signals of change, you may find yourself sunk.

2 Comments/Trackbacks




Nice visit was had by all - Thanks. Actually not deciding is usually the worst choice possible - it affects more people who are holding on for results or leadership.

Hal, two ideas come to mind in relation to your Rush quote:

1. When we fail to plan, we plan to fail.
2. Doing nothing is the hardest work of all, because you can never stop to rest.

So, decision-making is a fundamental leadership skill.

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