Orrin Woodward on LIFE & Leadership

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    Former Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the financial, leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

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Winston Churchill: Big Dreams, Big Failures, & Big Accomplishments

Posted by Orrin Woodward on November 15, 2012

The following is another research assignment I have been working on. One of the cool things about owning a leadership and personal development company (LIFE Business) is that I am constantly working upon projects personally and professionally. In other words, one cannot develop others in an area he isn’t developing himself. I am excited about the lessons learned from Churchill’s life and want to share them with you.


Orrin Woodward

In World War I, the Germans and Austrian pushed the much larger Russian army back towards Moscow, eventually forcing the Russians to sue for peace and launching Lenin on his communist misdeeds. The success of the Germans and Austrians against the numerically greater Russian army was due to two main factors:

1. The superiority of the German strategy
2. The inferiority of the Russian equipment

The first factor was unchangeable from the Allied perspective; however, the second factor could have been altered if only England had followed the advice of its young First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. In fact, Churchill, alone among the statesmen and generals of the First World War, bore the distinct marks of genius in his global-vision of the war.

Churchill had perceived the Russians, despite their superior numbers, would be no match for the double-barreled benefits of strategy and equipment held by the Germans. Churchill was the first to see that England had to deliver better equipment to Russia or lose the Russians to a separate peace. However, the only effective way to deliver equipment to the Russians was through the Black Sea currently blocked by the Turkish enemy at Constantinople. Taking Constantinople would accomplish several strategic benefits in one stroke. First, it would all-but eliminate Turkey from the Central powers alliance. Second, it would ensure the safety of the Orient and third would likely secure additional countries to the allied cause. With Constantinople in Allied hands, arms and ammunitions could be shipped through the Black Sea to Russia, Turkey would sue for peace, and Rumania, Bulgaria, along with Greece would most likely join with Serbia on the allied side and march against Austria.  Three dominoes, in other words, would fall by knocking over one.

Unfortunately, as is the price of genius, smaller minds with smaller conceptions could not see the big picture. Churchill, Field Marshall Kitchener, and Sea Lord Fisher were all for the plan; however, the British government was reluctant to support such a daring venture. Validating again that half-hearted measures committed to half-heartedly rarely produce the desired results, the British set up committees to discuss strategies. Not surprisingly, the committee delayed its final decision destroying proportionally the element of surprise for every month of delay. Additionally, the British resolved to strike quickly and resolutely was tamed through the committees less courageous members. Although the operation was neither simple nor straightforward, the strategic advantages obtained through proper execution should have overcome British reluctance. Nonetheless, the committee dithered away its strategic initiative, eventually agreeing to an invasion with too few ships, men, and resolved to complete the task.

Gallipoli CampaignOne of the British concerns was the possibility of their ships penned within the Dardanelles channel – 37 miles long and only 2 1/2 miles wide, connecting Constantinople with the Mediterranean Sea. The northern shore was called the Gallipoli peninsula and on the southern shore lay Asia Minor.  War demands risk and the rewards, in this case, were certainly worth the risk.  Remarkably, even with the delays, the British still caught the Turks unprepared and acted upon quickly would have changed the course of the war. Instead, lacking courage, initiative, and resolve, the British suffered one of the greatest setbacks of the First World War, sacrificing tens of thousands of men on the altar of committee leadership. Sea Lord Fisher, in frustration at the committee, had written to Churchill that never in world history had a committee won a victory; one man was needed. One man, in other words, with the courage to lead. In contrast, the British received numerous second-guessed decisions leading to one disaster after another. Practically every conceivable mistake imaginable ensued during the Battle of Gallipoli, costing men’s lives through lack of leadership.

England’s first mistake occurred when, contrary to Churchill’s pleas, the English warships bombarded only the outlying forts, giving the Turks advance notice of an impending invasion. In response, 60,000 Turkish men entered the peninsula with the German General Liman von Sanders assigned to command the troops. After a further month long delay, giving the Turks plenty of time to prepare, sixteen British and French ships attempted to force the Dardanelles entrance. The ships had an overwhelming superiority in guns over the resisting forts (58 to 18), but the forts maintained stiff resistance, preventing the Allies from clearing the floating mines at the inlet. Three battleships were sunk outright and three others were badly damaged causing the British squadron to retreat. Strikingly, although the Allies lost a few ships, they were on the verge of a major victory. The Turkish guns had only 8 shots left for each cannon and all of the available mines had already been laid in the straits. Because the chances of procuring more ammunition and mines was slim to none, the Turks contemplated surrender, but received a reprieve with the Allied retreat. In truth, the premature disengagement by the Allied fleet changed Britain’s greatest victory into its greatest defeats of the war.

General von Sanders intuition, that the British would attempt troop landings on the Gallipoli peninsula to breakthrough through the Dardanelles entrance was accurate. He exclaimed, “If only they give me a week’s time!” The British Cabinet, more than complied with his wish. Thus, the second big mistake of the Gallipoli campaign – political infighting leading to costly delays of the troop landings. In essence, the loss of the battleships hurt the pride and prestige of the British Navy, increasing resistance and decreasing the resolve to complete the campaign. Committee members, attempting to save their political skin, placed the blame on anything and everything outside of themselves. The Army and Navy bickered back and forth and the troops invasion date was delayed several times in the process. Finally, a full month too late, 50,000 men landed in Gallipoli and upon the Asia Minor coast. General von Sanders, by now amply prepared, met the invaders with stubborn resistance on all fronts. The attackers, with heavy casualties, progressed no further than three miles inland and stalled. Despite Gallipoli being no more than three miles wide and thirty miles long, the British lacked the leadership resolve to complete its bold undertaking.

The coup-de-grace was reached when, instead of firing the committee, Churchill was relieved of his post and sent into early retirement. Apparently, bureaucratic committees. rather than accept responsibility, choose instead the political short-sighted measure of shooting its best men with the best ideas. Churchill would be persona-non-grata for over twenty years and Russia would sue for a separate peace with the Germans. This was Churchill’s reward for daring to think boldly in a time of war. The lesson here is clear, namely, the greatest minds with the greatest ideas will be snubbed by the smallest minds with the smallest ideas. Leaders must be prepared for this. Fortunately, Churchill bided his time until his genius blossomed before the world during his courageous stand against Hitler in World War II. When a person with big ideas strives to do his personal best, he must expect to meet with the resistance of smaller people with smaller ideas. Nonetheless, a person must never drop his dream to fit in with the crowd. This, in fact, is one of the big secrets of success for Churchill’s life. He had big dreams, big failures, and big accomplishments and it was the courage of his convictions that maintained his equanimity during each phase. Learn from his life the value of following one’s dream, knowing that the failures on the journey only strengthen the character and resolve one will need when his moment of destiny arrives.

29 Responses to “Winston Churchill: Big Dreams, Big Failures, & Big Accomplishments”

  1. Great post with great lessons!

  2. Orrin, I really appreciate all the great info!! Please don’t stop sharing so we all can grow together!
    God Bless,
    Joe D.

  3. jimmy varghese said

    Great post orrin. What I appreciate about Winston churchill is his relentless pursuit of freedom and tenacity to prevent the spread of evil like the German advancement at the time. His uncanny ability to cast a vision and motivate his people to action is a trait that will single him out forever. Despite what the world will try to do to pull these leaders from their post because of “bureautic” issues, the people will always know what this individual stood for. In our business we constantly talk about being people of integrity because we EXPECT to be believed and when we are not, time will prove us right! Mr. churchill is a prime example of that. Thank you for posting these articles that stimulate learning and urge us as leaders to action! god bless.

  4. Marc-André Therrien said

    I always disliked hitory class in high school saying that it wasn’t important and that it had nothing to do with my future job…Now, I truely understand the importance of history thanks to this leadership journey with Team and LIFE. It is where I learn the most important leadership principles and decisions some leaders in the past had to make for us to be free today! It makes me realise that it should not be taken for granted.

    Thanks Orrin again for this great information and also for calling that window salesman 20-some years ago 😉

  5. Steve Leurquin said

    “The lesson here is clear, namely, the greatest minds with the greatest ideas will be snubbed by the smallest minds with the smallest ideas. Leaders must be prepared for this. ”
    Thanks for this great reminder that leadership can be a lonely road. I think of the many great leaders throughout history who have stood for what they knew was right and now we admire and talk about their courage. I pray for those men and women living today that our grandchildren will talk about.

  6. Rev. Ken Mangold said

    I’ll be honest: I’d rather slug through “War and Peace” another five or six time than work through Churchill’s “History of the English Speaking Peoples”. Nonetheless, Winston Churchill is one of the most fascinating men of the last century and his writings and speeches are filled with many nuggets of wisdom and genius. This is a great short summary of events and there is much to learn from this one account in Churchill’s life. It shows so clearly how some people can and will see the big picture and charge headlong into the fray to pursue it while others either lack the vision or the courage to do so. “Fortune favors the bold,” as the saying goes. Catch the vision and BE BOLD!

  7. Great article Orrin, thanks for sharing. The journey to greatness is never a smooth one…there will be ups and downs, mistakes, disappointments, criticisms, but those who stay focused and persevere will be remembered long after they are gone. God bless, Eric

  8. Linda Sovey said

    Thank you so much for sharing this article along with the comparisons of our ups and downs, struggles and victories. It couldn’t be more appropriate with what we are currently going through with our own business right now.

    I love reading about historical stories and situations. We cannot progress as a society if we do not realize the mistakes of the past and try to make the future a better place to be.

  9. Ginette Genest said

    Perfect timing Orrin..for those of us who have not quite learned the art of turning off the TV for good, the young First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, was introduced last night on the Titanic:Blood and Steel series. It tweaked an interest to learn more about WWI and lo and behold we get a nice history lesson handed to us today on a silver platter!! Thanks

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Ginette, I didn’t know that was on last night. How interesting how it connected together! thanks, Orrin

  10. jandmlewis said

    I admire Churchill most among the characters that influenced the World Wars. He had a plan and was not swayed by naysayers or small minded people. Persistence pays off. Thanks Orrin!

  11. Jerry & Polly Harteis said

    This is another striking example that there will always be struggle, before the victory. How important this is in today’s culture, where the “easy way out” is often the first choice! No matter what our circumstances may be, we all need to wake up & be willing to make a difference, no matter who’s watching or not. It does take boldness & the grace of God to be willing to stand up for what is right, just as Churchill did & you, Orrin, live your life!

  12. Monique Hoffer said

    I’m obviously wasn’t the only one who didn’t like history class in high school. LOL.
    Thank you so much for sharing with us. If I knew then what I know now, I might have paid better attention.
    In school teachers assign group projects and tell kids to work together, so naturally being a sanguine choleric I wanted to take charge of the group… But, for fear of sounding to bossy, over bearing or standing out to much, I held it back.. I wonder what would have happened if I had taken a little more charge.. More assignments in on time ?

  13. Rachel said

    This really is what life takes…doing our best no matter what! How sad to see men’s souls being lost through lack of leadership these days. Thanks Orrin for being the example you are:) God bless!

  14. Rick Green said

    Thank you, so much, for this insightful lesson. For me, it certainly illustrates that the day-to-day challenges that we face, in our industry, are the same challenges that men of vision have had to endure for centuries. I reminds me of a line that I heard, once, in a movie.

    “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and the one!”

    Trudge on my friends! We, too, shall have on victory!

  15. Kim Decker said

    Orrin, How true this is and how easy it is for people to give up and follow the crowd. It is ashame that we weren’t taught this from child birth through out and maybe the world would not be in trouble as it is now. I know its hard as i am faced with the negative daily on my corporate job and oh how tough it can be. I plug in my ear buds and listen as I never want to be that person again.

  16. Maura Galliani said

    I REALLY enjoyed that piece of WWI history, Orrin. Ever since Junior High, I’ve been intrigued by and gravitated toward anything related to WWII, including Winston Churchhill; but this was the first detailed piece of earlier history regarding a WWI campaign that I read, and I embraced it with the same tenacity. Now that I’ve been immersed into the Team LIFE culture, I can see how you are constantly exposing us to the incredible parallels of the past regarding: courage, dreams, failures, accomplishments, character, resolve, and striving for personal best just to name a few … fired up!

    p.s. And the next time it is my role at Toastmasters to present the Word of the Day, I will use “equanimty!”

  17. renee Oettinger said

    Tried with fire produces purity, strength

  18. Emma Horvath said

    “He had big dreams, big failures, and big accomplishments, and it was the courage of his convictions that maintained his equanimity through each phase..”

    Churchill’s story is such an inspiring and powerful one… and a great reminder of the influence one person can have in the world when they give them self to some great cause, and then proceed to stand and fight for those convictions despite major opposition. Thank you Orrin for being that kind of leader–you too are changing the world and will go down in history for it!!

  19. Having read Top 50 book, “Churchill on Leadership”, Mr. Hayward had discussed this often overlooked history lesson, so seeing it come up again in a different context, Orrin, only helps reinforce how excellent a value it is to know, study/review, then apply as much history as one can to the present day. Others tell us of their experiences in innumerable books, so walking through the quote, unquote ‘minefield’ of 2012 w/o reading would be our loss. Not tonight!* 😉

    *for those in this incredible business 🙂

  20. Matt Mielke said

    I find it interesting that the ones with bold, principle-based ideas, seem to receive the biggest criticisms. Yet,time will allow those principle based ideas to resurface and if the leader has resolve, those ideas will flourish. reminds me of the phrase about truth will go through 3 stages, rejection, violent opposition, than accepted as common place. Thanks Orrin for more then just a story that happened 100 years ago, but a vivid lesson that we can learn from today. Matt

  21. Gloria Phibbs said

    Excellent article Orrin – keeps us focused on leadership throughout history


  22. Michael Hartmann said

    Thanks for sharing Orrin. I’ve known about Churchill’s early political demise as a result of the Dardanelles campaign, but I never knew the specifics. Amazingly, the bureaucratic committees that refused to accept any form of responsibility for this disaster also never let Churchill forget about it as they would try to hold his spirit back during other ventures throughout his life. “Remember the Dardanelles!” they would chide whenever Churchill offered military advice; I imagine he used this experience as motivation to keep pressing on in the face of opposition later in life. While the bureaucratic committee was powerful for the short term, Churchill’s legacy, nearly 100 years after the Dardanelles campaign, is what everyone studies today. Fittingly, no one will ever study the names of (nor erect a statue to) any of the critics of Churchill’s past.

  23. pappabiggs said

    Orrin, your lessons here taugth through the biography and times of Winston sure made me remember the feeling in Louisville,KY at Freedom Hall in the fall of 2007! Thanks for the post and Chapter 12 in “Resolved”. I’ve been dwelling on WQ, hunger, determination, commitment and results a lot, since Columbus. BRING IT!!!

  24. Matt Farrand said

    Orrin, your drive and desire to learn and grow personally, then help others through their journey is absolutely wonderful. There is a lesson on everything if we are looking and wanting to grow.

  25. Eben Smith said

    I got a lot of key points
    From this blog thanx again Orrin

  26. Courage to dream big , this seems to be timeless!

  27. Bob Rasmussen said

    Dreaming and thinking BIG is the only way to go!!!

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