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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