Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do Not Listen to Hypocrites

Some people say that people who are successful are decisive. In contrast, we also hear people say that successful people listen to the opinions of others and adopt such opinions with flexibility. Is decisiveness more important than flexibility? This is a paradox. Which is more important, flexibility or decisiveness?

Since individual capacity and time is limited, those who want to be successful need help from others. They must interact with people, listen to people, and learn from people. Successful people are good at these interactions with others. However, if one only listened to others and obeyed what others told him to do, he would never be successful.

In the movie "The Matrix," when Neo was first brought to Nebakanezer, the hovercraft ship of Morpheus, Mouse, one of Morpheus' team members, told Neo not to listen to those hypocrites. While it is essential to listen to others in order to form or shape one's own opinion, plan, or schedule, once such a plan is set, it is more crucial to stick to the plan.

When Japan was in the war against Imperial Russia in 1905, the Russian Baltic Fleet cruised to Japan for a grand attack. Heihachiro Togo was the Japanese admiral general commanding the Japanese navy. The Japanese Chiefs of Staff could not decide which route the Russian Baltic Fleet would take to invade the Japan Sea. There were three possible places for the fleet to invade in Japanese territorial water. Soya, Tsusgaru, and Tsushima were regarded as possible invasion points. Tsushima was the furthest from the Russian base, but the easiest to invade Japanese territory.

There were three possible invasion points. There was a heated debate to decide which strait the Japanese navy should send their main fleet to in order to stop the invasion. Should all three be covered? Just two? Or even one? If one strait should be covered, which one?

General Togo argued they should focus on only one strait. He insisted the strait to be defended was Tsushima. He was stubborn and inflexible and stuck with his own opinion. Others criticized his stubbornness and uncompromising position, but he did not change his mind. He told his colleagues he did not care what others said, he would not change his position because he was the one who commanded the Japanese Navy. Emperor Meiji also agreed with Togo.

In the meeting of the Chiefs of Staff, the decision was made to focus only on the Tsushima Straight. The Russian Baltic Fleet appeared in the Tsushima Strait as Togo had predicted and the Japanese navy defended against the invasion. Togo's story tells that, once decided, one should not change his position so easily.

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