In his brilliantly written story “The Will To Victory,” master novelist Stephen Pressfield tells a story of the great Theban general, Epaminondas, who was destined to fight a great battle with the notorious Spartans, at Leuctra in 371 B.C.
On the eve of the infamous battle, Epaminondas called his weary, beaten warriors together and sadly told them that they may lose tomorrow because no army has ever beaten the great Spartans. However, he could guarantee victory if they would obey just one command, all at the exact same time, at the exact instant he issued it. His devoted soldiers of course clamored: “Yes! Yes! Tell us what you want!” The general confided: “When you hear my trumpet tomorrow, give me just one more foot. Do you understand…summon all of your strength and push the foe back, just one foot.”
The dawn came and the battle began. The two armies locked up, sword to sword, shield against shield, in the center of the fighting field. Both sides were heaving and pushing, seeking to gain the advantage. Swords were clanging, shields were crashing, and blood was spurting. Epaminondas sat atop of his black stallion and watched and waited. Endless minutes passed. The warriors’ legs were cramping, their knees gave out, but still both sides shoved and strained against each other, trying to break their opponent’s will. Finally the moment of supreme exhaustion came. Epaminondas sounded the trumpet. His warriors remembered their promise of the night before; they summoned their final reserves of strength and pushed the Spartans back with all their might, just one foot. That did it! The enemy ranks broke! The battle was won!
Important because artists and entrepreneurs fight similar inner battles of impending defeat whenever they are faced with an overwhelming challenge. It’s those gut-wrenching times when you battle toe-to-toe with an unbeatable foe or a challenging calamity that could make or break your next move. That’s the time to ask yourself: “Can I give it one, big, final push forward…just one more foot?”