Perseverance: A Message to Garcia
My son brought to my attention a more than century-old “paean to perseverance” written by publisher Elbert Hubbard. His story “A Message to Garcia” depicts the dilemma of President William McKinley, our 25th President in 1899 during America’s war with Spain. The President needed to deliver an urgent message to General Calixto Garcia, the leader of the insurgents, in order to secure his cooperation. But Garcia was lost somewhere deep inside the mountain vastness of Cuba.
“There’s a fellow by the name of Rowan who will find Garcia if anyone can,” someone told the president. So McKinley summoned Colonel Andrew Rowan. Rowan took McKinley’s letter, “sealed it in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle and in three weeks came out on the other side of the island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia.”
The message was about the need, sometimes, to just “jump,” rather than ask “how high” when we’re required to take immediate and effective action. What do you think about this from the standpoint of school transportation? When are you asked to act rather than analyze? How do you hire staff members who are like Colonel Rowan? Would you want an operation with only Colonel Rowan’s?
I’m especially interested because I’m so aware of the difficulty I have in finding a balance between analysis to paralysis and impulsivity. I read “A Message to Garcia” several weeks ago, and have thought about it often since then.