Dear (still!) Japan Brocadians:
Some of you may have seen the patch on the back of my office rucksack. In case you can’t see the image here, it’s blue and has the yellow words DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP. I want you to know why I put it there, and why it makes me think of you.
You probably know that the USA fought a war to gain independence from Great Britain. We fought them again 35 years later in what we call “The War of 1812.” Many of the battles were fought at sea, between the most powerful navy in the world (the Brits) and a tiny one (the young USA).
One of those battles was just outside Boston, where a British ship was blocking access to Boston harbor. An American captain named James Lawrence decided to take his ship to fight the British and free the harbor. He and his crew sailed out and bravely attacked, but only fifteen minutes later his crew surrendered to the British ship.
They had to surrender for him, because during the battle, Captain Lawrence had been shot and badly wounded. As his sailors were carrying him to the doctor, he gave his last order to them: “Don’t give up the ship!” As inspirational as that order was, the Americans were out-matched by the Brits, who were better trained, more powerful, and more experienced.
The next day, Captain Lawrence died from his wounds. He probably never knew that his crew had given up the ship, which the British then captured and sailed to Canada. But his crew remembered his last words, and a fellow captain had them put on a flag, after which the patch on my bag is modeled.
Why am I telling you this story? What does it have to do with you and Brocade?
Unlike salespeople, heroes aren’t judged by their results, but by their character and their actions. Heroes come out stronger in the end for having helped each other and the cause for which they fought. If they don’t survive, they’re still heroes forever, for their bravery and 我慢. The Americans lost that battle, but Captain Lawrence will forever be a hero, and his crew are all heroes too. The flag with his last words now hangs at the US Naval Academy, which my father attended and which my son attends now.
So that’s why I think of this team and our cause when I look at my patch. I don’t know what may happen as we approach November, but I know that having fought with you for the last eight months has been the best leadership experience of my life, and I have seen more heroism than I could ever have expected. Whether you’re joining Arris, Extreme, Broadcom, Pulse, or doing something else, you will look back at this experience and say “I did not give up the ship.”
I have nothing to teach you – or any Japanese person – about 我慢強い or withstanding the impossible, which is a theme that runs throughout all of Japanese history. I’m only happy that this team has so much of it, and that I’ve gotten to work together with you in action. I thank you all so much, from the bottom of my heart, for giving me the experience of working with you, and I’m sorry to be leaving Tokyo a little before it’s all over. It’s fair to say that I’m “giving up the ship” a little bit. 😦
But I’ll still be doing my job until at least the end of August, probably from the US if I’m not asked to return. I’ll send an email with some operational parts of that soon.
With my greatest respect and love,