The Winning Defeat

Horror gripped the heart of a World War-I soldier as he saw his lifelong friend fall in battle on the enemy’s side of the bridge. The soldier asked his Lieutenant whether he could go out to bring his fallen comrade back. “You can go,” said the Lieutenant, “but I don’t think it will be worth it. Your friend is probably dead and you may throw your life away.” The Lieutenant’s words didn’t matter, and the soldier went anyways.  Miraculously, he managed to reach his friend, hoisted him onto his shoulder and brought him back to the safer side of the bridge. The officer checked the wounded soldier, then looked kindly at his friend “I told you it wouldn’t be worth it,” he said, “Your friend is dead and you are severely wounded.”  “It was worth it, Sir,” said the soldier, “because when I got to him, he was still alive and I had the satisfaction of hearing him say – Man, I knew you would come!

Now, is it a heart-wrenching or a heart-warming story?  Neither.  It would have been heart-wrenching if the soldier hadn’t attempted to bring his friend home.  It would have been heart-warming if the soldier had brought back his friend alive.  Interestingly, though, had the above incident gone either the heart-wrenching or the heart-warming way, it would not have been a story worth publishing!

Instead, the above episode makes for a ‘memorable’ story only because it beautifully depicts the bridging of hearts during testing moments.  The scenario applies equally well in all battle situations—be it a world-war or a professional-war.  Our customers or managers are not always going to remember our successful deliveries or failures on specific instances.  However, what they probably won’t forget are the times when we crossed the bridge in the line of fire trying to meet their expectations!

You see, it’s the ‘approach’ and not the ‘results’ that make for great stories.  For when the approaches are correct, more often than not, the results automatically follow; and we bring home our customers and managers as our friends.



Adapted, Fruitless, Luck, Style

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The Winning Defeat | Arun Nathani Blog