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Regard Yourself as a Cloud

By Chuck Cusumano and Jillian Broaddus

Admiral Horatio Nelson, flag officer in the Royal Navy and one of Britain’s great military heroes, is credited with the adage, “to turn a blind eye”. During the siege of Copenhagen in 1801, Nelson was informed by a subordinate that the signal flag from command was to withdraw his fleet from the battle. Nelson, later to become famous for his aggressive and non-traditional military tactics, took a looking glass, put it up to his blind eye, and told the subordinate that he did not see the flag flying from command to withdraw. He commanded his ships to attack and won total victory.

On our last blog, we discussed the inundation of data in our world, and the particular stress of endless information when it comes to making a decision. While it’s not always the best option to ignore orders and just do it, Nelson’s actions do bring up another important perspective on decision-making: to turn a blind eye to doubt or fear of failure regarding decisions.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right.” Essentially, your confidence in any given decision is often more important than the exact choice itself.

British philosopher Alan Watts explained it best: “If you see you lack self-confidence, you will make mistakes through sheer fumbling. If you do have self-confidence you may get away with doing entirely the wrong thing. You have to regard yourself as a cloud, in the flesh. Because you see, clouds never make mistakes. Did you ever see a cloud that is misshapen? If you would treat yourself for a while as a cloud, and realize you can’t make a mistake…Then through this capacity, you will develop a kind of confidence, and through confidence, you will be able to trust your own intuition.”

So, the next time you are faced with a stressful decision, take a note from Nelson, Ford, and Watts, and:

1. Turn a blind eye to doubt

2. Regard yourself as a cloud

3. Tackle the choice with confidence!

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