Monthly Archives: January 2014

Wise Saws and Modern Instances

Quotation Marks

It’s always fun to come across a perceptive comment someone has made which I can quote. Whether attributed to Confucius, Socrates or a more contemporary figure, for me, a wisdom can inspire a blog, a tweet or simply be used to add interest to a training topic.

This week I came across a brilliant one from an unexpected source – in this case from the 20th century. Before I share it with you, let me take the opportunity to tell you about one of my long-held favourites – made by none other than the Queen (although not personally to me).

Many years ago, on one of those ‘fly-on-the-wall-but-not-really’ documentaries about the monarch’s everyday life, the Queen was asked how she manages to carry out such a unique and unusual job so supremely well.

She said her answer was exactly the same as the army officer to whom she had once presented an honour for an act of great bravery. Pinning the medal onto him, she asked a similar question: how did he know what to do? “Well, Ma’am” he replied, “I didn’t really stop to think about it at the time. I just did it. I suppose it’s the training.”

She completed her elegant reply to the interviewer by repeating: “It’s the training.”

But back to my newly discovered quote…

Last week, the death of a 91 year old Japanese war veteran was announced. Hiroo Onoda was the soldier who remained hidden in a Philippines jungle for 29 years, refusing to believe that the Second World War was lost. His story of survival is one of dogged loyalty to his commanding officer, self-discipline and endurance; his later years dedicated to inspiring Japanese children with outdoor activities. Reading his fascinating obituary, I learned that his first job – keeping the accounts for a trading company – came to an abrupt end in 1942 when he was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army. A capable soldier, he rose to officer rank and enrolled on a gruelling training programme. The army instructor leading it was as tough as the course itself and would repeat this motto to his men:

Better to sweat on the training ground than to bleed on the battleground.