In 480 B.C. King Xerxes led his Persian army into the “hot gates” at Thermopylae where they met and destroyed thousands of Greeks including 300 Spartans led by King Leonidas. Mighty Persia won the battle. The Greeks, however, would go on to win the war. All Americans should study the Greeks and in particular the Spartans. Our founders did. Our founders understood we owed a debt of gratitude to Sparta and her most prized product – her people. You see, Sparta produced men. Study their women, however, if you want to get to the real root of this virtuous people. Study the Spartan women.
The Greeks, inspired by the standard of valor set by the 300, defeated Xerxes later that year at Salamis and saved Western democracy from dying while yet in the cradle. Without this act of valor, our founders would have had no framework to study, no model to learn from, and no courage to be gained from a tiny nation taking a stand against a world super-power.
The root problem in every business is an abundance of weak, neutered, survive at all cost kinda people. The root problem is people – the wrong kind of people. The weak think it’s manly to manipulate for personal gain and play “quick & dirty” politics and poker with other peoples lives. Leaders who tolerate this weakness, create a culture devoid of deep trust and, instead, produce a tax of time on the system. CYA kinda culture adds more meetings and less decisions. Time. Products suffer. Customer service is cut. The focus is inward and around weak people. Symptoms carry the day, while roots continue, quietly to decay.
Today, study some history; namely your own. Root out your cowardice, your avarice, and take a stand. Stop excusing yourself. Stop blaming the culture. Stop wondering if you’ll stand alone. Stop hoping somebody else will do it. Become one of the few. STAND. Remember, throughout history it’s always been a few strong men/women who through their own performance and will, grab the rest of our attention and jolt us out of our passive, weak status quo. These few turn our attention outward, toward our collective aim and return us to a healthy status that rewards risk taking, deep trust between teammates, and an abundance of action, productive action in particular. Good.
Thanks, Sparta for modeling the way…