• Adil Malia

How Far And Until When?

"Plan and prepare for every possibility and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyze every possible obstacle and thus begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing greater danger. Only by great risks can great results be achieved ". King Xerxis the courageous King of the Persian Achaemenid dynasty, is claimed to have said this to his uncle, his general Artabanus. 

Apparently,  King Xerxes was talking with Artabanus while surveying his army that was crossing the Hellespont to invade Greece when it is believed that he delivered this thought.

A controversy exists around this quote. Some schools of history believe that this conversation never happened. Herodotus the Greek is presumed to have made up the entire conversation essentially to contrast Xerxes style with the more strategic Artabanus whose style and thinking he preferred.

Artabanus' advise was correct. He warned Xerxes of logistical issues with the invasion, that were likely to come up. The fleet & army could be separated, making the army helpless. But Xerxes would not listen. As a leader he felt that certain risks should be taken by a leader. Wait to plan contingency for every eventuality and you could be frozen in analysis, he believed. He thus moved on like a bold leader pushing aside Atarbanus' advise.

Unfortunately, what Artabanus feared exactly happened after the storms in the Battle of Salamis. The Persians were decisively defeated twice and ended losing control of the Greek cities of Lonia for the next 50 years.

A thousand years later on different canvasses , in battlefields, war fields and in markets, the question that haunts leadership continues to be the same - to risk and how much? How far to go analyzing and when to get into action ??? Should risks be taken or should all risks to be evaluated and actioned only after ?

We all know the 10 step process recommended for conscious risk taking. But that is clinical. When times are tough, situations are adverse and moments are scarce what would you do ?

Share your thoughts - would you be a courageous and a bold leader like Xerxes or would be a detailed and calculated leader like Artabanus ??? Sometimes, I wonder if there is an answer to this dilemma.

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