“The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?”
On Dec 7th, America celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This week, I’m using a story from this attack that I think lets us all learn from our past history.
Sunday, December 7th, 1941 – Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat – you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war.
On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked. As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked,
“Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?”
Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice.
Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?”
Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?”
Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800. Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships. Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is on top of the ground in storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make, or God was taking care of America.
Admiral Nimitz was able to see the silver lining in a situation and circumstance where everyone else saw only extreme despair and defeatism. President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job who focused on what he could control, not on what he could not.
As Pinnacle marches towards our lofty goals, we are inevitably going to run into our own mini Pearl Harbors. When this happens, we need leaders that regardless of the issues will look forward, not backward. While I am definitely not proposing that we ignore or maintain blinders regarding real issues, I am proposing that we have to stay positive and focus on those things that are within our control vs. what’s not. Additionally, I am proposing that we all focus on moving forward just a few feet each day without falling back. After a few weeks, you will find that the feet have turned into yards. After a few months, you will find that the yards have turned into miles! That’s how things get accomplished. That’s how we are going to change an industry and build a company that in a few years will be far more recognizable!
So, think about this. One year ago, I gave a challenge around what I called the BIG-5, which I believed to be the key fundamentals for a successful Pinnacle site. As you read about these Big-5, think about the progress we have made as a company in each area.
1. World Class Appearance standards. Check your ramp right now, how many associates have a name tag? How many Nike swooshes can you see? (I love Nike but not on our ramps!) Is your ramp World Class?
2. Every single Associate gets World Class Training. Start with your New Hires!
3. Conduct World Class Shift Huddles. Are you living by the recommended topics that Derek Cunard posted in Dropbox for December?
4. Daily Reconciliation of Payroll. Did you achieve budgeted payroll in November? How are you doing so far in December?
5. See your Client every day and look for the opportunity to show your work…every day!
Today, these 5 items seem like table stakes and really not that big at all. That’s pretty impressive. It came one week, one month, and one quarter at a time.
Have a great week.
A Year at Pinnacle is a Dog Year!