It’s Hopeless
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Marshal Ferdinand Foch, a French General, Marshal of France and the Supreme Allied Commander during the First World War stated: “There are no hopeless situations only men grown hopeless about them.”

How many times have you looked at a situation and determined that it was hopeless? Nothing can be done, the ship has sailed, the die has been cast. In my own life, there are countless examples of me feeling or even saying it was a hopeless situation. How could a general facing the horrors of the First World War say something so bold? Surely there must have been hopeless situations that had him weary and ready to give up. I decided to look into other statements that Marshal Foch made to get an insight into his thought life. Here are a few highlights:

  • “None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear.” Marshal Foch was honest with the realities that he faced. He must have faced his emotions as being real and then addressed them.
  • “Don’t tell me that this problem is difficult. If it were not difficult, it would not be a problem.” Marshal Foch accepted that difficulties were a normal fact of life.
  • “Accepting the idea of defeat is being defeated.” This is one of my favorites. We are defeated as soon as we feel it is possible to be defeated. This reminds me of my favorite line from the movie Apollo 13 when Gene Kranz says “Failure is not an option.”
  • “The reality of the battlefield is not an element that can be studied: we simply do what we can to be able to apply what we know.” This last quote gives us the best insight into Marshal Foch, namely that we cannot study so that we can have all the details, we cannot develop plans that will cover everything, we do whatever we can to keep going.

 Marshal Foch was considered to be the man most responsible for the Allied Victory in the First World War. From his quotes, we can see that he won the battle for his thought life which enabled him to keep and objective mindset and coordinate the defeat of the Central Powers.

How about you? Are you willing to fight the battle for your thought life? Don’t give in to the idea that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. Marshal Foch was correct, “There are no hopeless situations, only men grown hopeless about them.”