Friday, July 16, 2010

Gambler's Heart

...Yamamoto possessed the rank, prestige, and administrative skill to do something about it. In the Navy he was known as a bold, original thinker and an inveterate gambler. He thrived on all night poker games, testing his opponents' nerves, endurance, and patience - just as he tested himself. "In all games, Yamamoto loved to take chances just as he did in naval strategy," explained his administrative aide, Captain Yasuji Watanabe. "He had a gambler's heart."
Yamamoto's decision to attack the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor not only was breathtakingly bold but involved a revolutionary, hitherto untried use of naval airpower - an experimental concept untested in the crucible of battle. "What a strange position I find myself in," Yamamoto wrote to his friend Rear Admiral Teikichi Hori on the eve of the fleet's departure, "-having to pursue with full determination a course of action which is diametrically opposed to my best judgment and firmest conviction. That, too, perhaps is fate."
Jean Edward Smith, FDR, (New York: Random House, 2007), 532-534.
Isoroku Yamamoto was Naval General of the Japanese Navy at the time of Pearl Harbor. Although attacking America was not his favored position, he took upon himself to do it in a creative way that was built upon risk. He used an untested method to fight the battle while putting everything - including his best judgment - on the line. The attack on Pearl Harbor was breathtaking for its incredible destruction & success. It was a gambler's strategy & it worked to nearly flawless perfection. Of course we can look back and judge Japan for helping the United States enter the war - which would lead to the downfall of the Axis powers. However, at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, all that was known was that Japan needed a big W on the board to help boost morale and nail the US where it counted. The gambler's heart of Yamamoto lead to the plan that accomplished that.

I admire the gambler's heart. I admire the courage. I admire taking chances and putting experimental concepts into practice. It certainly must lead to a fair share of mistakes, accidents, and disaters. But as they say in Vegas - you have to bet big to win big. My life doesn't resemble that of Yamamoto. I do not have the gambler's heart or the desire to risk it all. I like to think I do. I like to talk like I do. But the reality is I almost always play it safe. But why not risk? Life is so short and you only get one shot at it. Your untested plans, goals, dreams, and strategies are waiting to be used. Double check to make sure the convictions and judgment that holds you back is not based upon fear. Just go.

Bet it all. Take that chance. The gambler's heart leads to the big reward.