Lesson #46 – Extraordinary challenges

–Leaders take on extraordinary challenges

Admiral Halsey was a graduate of the Naval Academy and a famous admiral in World War II. During the war, he was commanded to stall the Japanese navy for 24 hours.

The problem was that he only had small ships and he would be up against battleships, aircraft carriers, and destroyers. If he couldn’t stop them for 24 hours, there would be major negative consequences to the United States in terms of loss of lives, equipment, and position.

He ended up stalling the Japanese navy for almost 36 hours and it was a turning point for the United States in the Pacific. In that battle, however, more senior naval officers were lost than in all of the rest of World War II combined! In essence, he had sent many of his academy classmates to their deaths. He was crying afterwards and an aide tried to console him by saying, “Sir, they were all great men.”

Admiral Halsey replied with what I feel is a classic line in history. He said, “There are no great men. There are only ordinary men who take on great challenges.”

Think about the great achievements and many times there were plenty of talented people who could have done something, but usually it is accomplished by someone who simply had the courage and vision to go for it. It is not so much talent, as the willingness to take on extraordinary challenges that separates the average from the super successful.

The willingness to take on an extraordinary challenge brings out the extraordinary in ordinary people. Don’t wait for others. You make the extraordinary happen!

Action Step #1

What level of challenges have you been willing to take on? This week, think about what extraordinary challenge you are willing to take on.

Action Step #2

Interview someone you have contact with who, from your viewpoint, has accomplished something extraordinary.

Ask where they felt inadequately equipped or prepared.

An Example:
My mentor, Tom, was a man of ordinary beginnings. He did not go to college. Actually, he went one semester and got thrown out. He stuttered until his twenties. He was not born into money.
In 1973 when his mentored died, he started his own company. Even at that time he had very little money. Two years later his mentor’s ranch became available for sale at a government auction. It was 2,000 acres and the asking price was $3,500,000! His company at the time was grossing less money than the monthly payment would be on the ranch, but Tom felt he should have the ranch. He assembled a team to rise to the occasion. He spent two days forming and melding the team into a mastermind. They were mobilized by an extraordinary opportunity and became extraordinary.

They purchased that ranch and it became the centerpiece of his company. Tom affected thousands of people in a very significant way during his lifetime. He was an ordinary man who rose to extraordinary challenges time after time.

“Courage is the price life extracts for granting peace”
–Amelia Earhart

2 Responses to “Lesson #46 – Extraordinary challenges”

  1. When faced with extraordinary challenges, nations sometimes must take extraordinary steps to meet those obstacles. With that notion in mind,

  2. This chapter has been criticized by groups in the U.S., Mexico, … However, an extraordinary challenge committee does not function as an ordinary appeal. … Lederman D, W Maloney and L Servén (2005) Lessons from NAFTA for Latin …

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