Bob’s Top Movie Picks About Business: Pt. 2.5 — Master and Commander: Sometimes You Have to Sacrifice Something You Love

Our last article featured a scene from the movie Master and Commander. There are many principles to be taken from this movie, so we are featuring it again this week!

While traveling around Cape Horn, the British man-of-war — the H.M.S. Surprise — encounters a storm. While fighting against it, the captain orders the sails to be brought up. One of the crew, Will, begins to work on it, when the mast breaks and is tossed into the sea. The mast is still attached to the ship by ropes, and Will’s only hope of rescue is to swim to the mast so the crew can drag him in. He reaches it, but the mast is too heavy and is dragging the ship down. Captain Jack Aubrey has to once again make a difficult decision: cut the mast and save the crew, killing Will, or try to save Will at the expense of the entire ship.

Aubrey turns to the closest member of the crew, Joseph, who happens to be Will’s best friend and the same carpenter that he would have whipped later on for not saluting Hollom, and they cut the mast free from the ship.

Sometimes You Have to Sacrifice

There are times in business that require sacrificing things that are dear to our hearts, but that may be dragging down the rest of the business. This could be anything from certain traditions that have become part of the company culture, to the way a task is accomplished, or a person who ultimately needs to be fired. Whatever it may be, these things are not easy to get rid of, but are necessary for the success of the company. Have the courage and strength to know when to cut off the things that are dragging your company down.

Allow Yourself to Be Taught

In the same scene of the movie, the captain and his lieutenant have a moment, communicated in a single glance, in which they both recognize what needs to be done. Captain Aubrey is in denial at first, but his lieutenant keeps looking at him, and the captain allows himself to be persuaded into cutting Will off the ship. Aubrey communicates this to Joseph, with compassion, also in a single glance, and the three of them cut the ropes holding the mast.

Aubrey did not want to cut Will off the ship, and was stubbornly willing to do all it would take to get Will back. His lieutenant recognized this and stepped in for the good of the entire crew, instead of just one member. Aubrey listened and allowed himself to be taught by someone who, in rank, was under him. This shows true strength of character and discipline towards committing to the good of the entire ship, not just one person or agenda.

Don’t Let Criticism Sway Your Decisions

Once the rest of the crew realizes that their ship is no longer sinking, they celebrate, unknowing as to the reality of  what circumstances saved them. 

Often times, your staff will not know why you make the decisions you do. They may criticize, openly so, and insist that you made the wrong decision. It is imperative that you do not let any criticism sway you from important decisions, especially those that not everyone can see the entire picture: the reasons, the circumstances, etc. Stand your ground and let the company reap the benefits from difficult decisions.

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My Wood Burning Stove – Everything It’s Taught Me About Business

My wife and I bought a home 17 years ago. We love our home and the cherished memories it keeps. Many of those memories include collecting, splitting, and burning wood to keep us warm. Each year we gather and split anywhere from two to four cords of wood. They say that burning wood heats you up three times: when you gather it, when you split it, and when you burn it. We have certainly found this to be true.
We have converted our backyard into different areas where we can process the wood in two steps: splitting and stacking.

Marketing requires consistent searching and effort.

Just as finding firewood for the upcoming winter requires one to start looking in April, so does marketing require one to keep a constant search open for new and potential clients. A good marketer is not spotty in when he or she puts all effort into reaching out to potential clients; a good marketer constantly gathers and searches, knowing that consistent effort is a must.


Oftentimes we will find a tree that has just been cut down, so the wood is green. We have to let that wood sit in the yard anywhere from six months to a year in order to dry so we can then split it. Splitting green wood is almost impossible. This is similar to nurturing along potential clients before they become clients. The timing has to be right before we can actually engage with them as clients. We can stay present and vocal with them, but only when the client are ready to do business with us can we do our job properly. Just like leaving wood to sit so it can be split properly, we need to let our potential clients decide when they are ready.

Go with the grain.

When splitting wood, I have found that it is easiest to put the larger side towards the hammer that will push the wood towards the stationary axe, and the thinner side towards the axe. This allows the splitter to cut with the grain of the wood instead of fighting the grain of the wood. In business, it is important to be aware of climates, situations, and attitudes that, when confronted, would be a difficult struggle, expending more energy than is needed. One can, instead, continue in a current course until the right direction is found, knowing that there will be a time and a place for everything.

 Work around the knots.

Every batch of wood has pieces that won’t split correctly because there are knots in the wood that are impossible to get through. Knots can exist in business, as well. There may be things ingrained in any industry that are just part of it or the way things get accomplished that are impossible to fight against and will not go anywhere. Sometimes these knots need to stay in place and we need to learn how to work around them because they actually help the business stay in place.

Getting the right people for the job.

My wife grew up stacking wood. I have tried to do it before, but she has the necessary experience to make sure that the wood is stacked correctly. When she stacks it, it won’t fall over or lean once the wood dries or in harsh weather because every piece is perfectly placed. When I do it, the pile sometimes leans, because I simply did not grow up doing this. So, my wife stacks the wood and I split it because our experiences have given us different strengths. It is more efficient this way. So, too, in business, should people be placed in positions according to their talents or experiences, their strengths.

A good foundation is imperative.

When my wife stacks wood, she always comes to me and says, “In order to begin another row, I need some solid, square pieces that will ensure that the foundation is strong, that way the pile doesn’t fall over.” In business, having a strong beginning will create a solid foundation, ensuring that the business process can continue forwards  without fail. There need to be good, solid, consistent practices put in place from the beginning in order to accomplish this. My previous posts talk about having a champion, or creating standards, or owning data, or involving IT, and these are those strong practices that create a good foundation.

 Energy will be produced.

Burning wood creates energy, and so does a business that lays good foundations and follows it’s principles set up from the beginning. By taking these lessons that I have gained from gathering, splitting, and burning wood, I have been able to see positive effects in my business; in the RSC culture, in the profit I see, in our relationships with our clients, and the things we have been able to produce. They are essential, and I hope you can learn from them as well.

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