KNEW IT... but Didn't DO IT

Updated: May 25



They KNEW IT… but they died because they didn’t DO IT!

The Portuguese nobleman Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) sailed from Lisbon in 1497 on a mission to reach India and open a sea route from Europe to the East. After sailing down the western coast of Africa and rounding the Cape of Good Hope, his expedition made numerous stops in Africa before reaching the trading post of Calicut, India, in May 1498.


When Vasco de Gama made his triumphant voyage around the Cape of Good Hope, he took 160 men with him, but returned with only 60. Our imaginations go wild wondering why, from pirate raids to horrific storms stealing the lives of those brave sailors. But almost every one of them died because of the disease we now call scurvy.

Fortunately, in 1601 an English sea captain named John Lancaster discovered a cure for scurvy. He gave a little lime juice to every sailor every day, and after that, other than battling pirates or an accident or human error, every sailor returned home safely.

The British were initially mocked for this unusual practice, and slapped with the derogatory moniker, limey.


Lancaster had found the information to save the lives of countless sailors and yet it took nearly 200 years for his practice to catch on. The method for saving lives was available, but for the next 200 years many enlightened captains and ship doctors did not take action on the information they had in their hands. What really bugs most of us in life is... The sailors and captains KNEW IT… but died because they didn’t DO IT!


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As we begin to emerge from the challenging game of Covid-19, let's allow what we have experienced to highlight some things that you and I KNEW, but didn't DO.


We KNEW that we needed to prepare for a potential world catastrophe... but what did we DO to be personally prepared to stay more resilient?


  • During this "challenging game," did I become worried and paralyzed?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being I didn't let worry highjack my focus,

  • Did I actually excel (play my best) during this "hard game" pressure?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being I played my very best,

  • Was I personally prepared for this game?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being I was 100% prepared,

  • Was my "Inner Game" developed enough to meet this challenge?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being that I was ready to meet this challenge.

  • Score my personal Performance RESILIENCE during these past two months:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being my resilience is highly developed.


The key to winning hard games (and there are more on the horizon) is not what happens outside of us; it is what first happens inside of us! Each of us pays attention to something in life. Have we paid attention to developing our "Inner Game"... disciplining our thinking, pre-deciding our belief system, recognizing that yes we are physical beings, but have we also prepared our emotional, spiritual and phycological states?


Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, said, “I don’t believe in a fate that falls on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.”


U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell suggested, "The freedom to do your best means nothing unless you are willing to do your best."

The sailors and captains KNEW IT… but died because they didn’t DO IT!

We have a deep passion to build resilient people. It is my great privilege to coach & train leaders and whole teams by phone and over Zoom during this time. Every leader I have recently coached has discussed with me players on their teams who have increased their focus, energy, optimism and actions, even as things deteriorated, proving to be invaluable during this challenging game.

"One's only security in life comes from doing something uncommonly well."

-- Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States


CEO's, Presidents and many managers that I train and coach have also talked to me about players on their teams who have shrunk from the challenge, playing "soft," not prepared to "play hard" as the crisis increased. These people unfortunately allowed worry to paralyze their thinking, this type of thinking to increase their negative energy, and the negativity seemed to highjack their actions.

High performing, resilient players are not perfect; they are often just better trained and better prepared!


Ponder right now 5 people in your life (direct reports, in your business, in your family, in your neighbourhood) who with focused training could grow their resilience and be better prepared for life's next "challenging game," then call me to discuss the specific training process that works for you and your people (and your budget.)


Let's apply the solutions now.

Let's prepare our people now.

Let's all become limeys.


Remember, They KNEW IT…
















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https://www.ryanwalter.com/leading-through-uncertainty


https://www.history.com/topics/exploration/vasco-da-gama

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