The Corporate Law Group

Don’t Be McClellan

Don't Be McClellanGeorge B. McClellan was a US Civil War Union General who couldn’t get ‘er done. Lincoln called McLellan’s army a ‘bodyguard’ since they did not engage the Confederates, and said that if McClellan didn’t intend to use the army under his command, maybe Lincoln could borrow it to attack. Wikipedia says:

“The immediate problem with McClellan’s war strategy was that he was convinced the Confederates were ready to attack him with overwhelming numbers. On August 8, believing that the Confederacy had over 100,000 troops facing him (in contrast to the 35,000 they actually deployed at Bull Run a few weeks earlier), he declared a state of emergency in the capital. By August 19, he estimated 150,000 rebel soldiers on his front. McClellan’s subsequent campaigns were strongly influenced by the overblown enemy strength estimates of his secret service chief, detective Allan Pinkerton, but in August 1861, these estimates were entirely McClellan’s own. The result was a level of extreme caution that sapped the initiative of McClellan’s army and dismayed the government. Historian and biographer Stephen W. Sears observed that McClellan’s actions would have been “essentially sound” for a commander who was as outnumbered as McClellan thought he was, but McClellan in fact rarely had less than a two-to-one advantage over the armies that opposed him in 1861 and 1862. That fall, for example, Confederate forces ranged from 35,000 to 60,000, whereas the Army of the Potomac in September numbered 122,000 men; in early December 170,000; by year end, 192,000.”

We’re not saying don’t assess the situation or throw away all caution. But sometimes in a soccer game you need to dribble right at the fullbacks. Sometime you have to advance. Sure, if you advance you might lose, but if you never advance you will surely never win.

We saw a video recently about the SEAL’s, “40% Rule.” Apparently they say that when you think you are done and have nothing more to give, you are really about 40% done. You have 2 ½ times what you think you have. So keep going. We have read about a number of battles where the US stopped just shy of victory. Had we kept going we could have won but we stopped because we weren’t sure. You can bet when you stop, you won’t win. Sometimes caution is the real enemy.

So, dribble right at the fullbacks. Attack the enemy. Launch the product. Ask for the sale. Start the next thing. Don’t let fear of failure sink you before you try. Don’t be McClellan.