July 11, 2022

Instinct and intention

In the late 18th century it was tough to be a sailor in the Royal Navy.   Discipline was harsh, pay was low, the food was terrible and battles were deadly.   Especially if you were part of a gun crew.

Firing a cannon was far from simple, it took several steps and required good co-ordination and careful timing.   The equivalent of a modern Formula1 pitstop.   Plus of course all the time you were firing, the enemy was firing at you, shattering the hull of your own ship into lethal splinters.

The bosses expected gun crews to work by instinct.  Their thinking was that in the midst of battle, when your life depended on it you would naturally do the best job you could.

A new boss changed all that.   His radical idea was to look at what the best gun crews did, then train every crew to work as they did, practicing until every crew performed the best it could – consistently and on purpose.

“A waste of good ammunition” said his bosses.

Horatio Nelson insisted and got his way.

The rest as they say, is history.

Instinct can get you a long way, but if you want to go further, you need intention.

Discipline makes Daring possible.