“Who Dares, Wins” -Motto of the British Special Air Service


A few weeks ago I took on a new challenge at CSU. Without going into the details, the project was large and it did not seem like it was beyond my abilities. At a few points, however, I realized that it was a larger task than I had bargained for.
I was fine with the work that needed to be done. But, all new activities create a learning curve. For me, the trickiest part was that I would need to learn new software package that I had never used before.

The Counsel of History

Knee-deep in Youtube tutorials, I was comforted when I reflected on a conversation that General George Marshall had with Frank Capra during World War II. Jonathan Jordan told the story in American Warlords.

Understanding that Americans needed to know what they were fighting for, Marshall sought to enlist Capra’s help to create a series of documentaries. Capra was an amazing talent. Capra, an Italian immigrant had won three Oscars for best director. He had directed a string of hit movies such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It Happened One Night. After Pearl Harbor, he offered his services to the U.S. Army.
Capra, now Major Capra, was called into see Army Chief of Staff, George Marshal. Marshall explained that:

Young Americans, and young men of all free countries, ad used to doing and thinking for themselves. They will prove not only equal, but superior to totalitarian soldiers if—and it is a large if, indeed—they are given answers as to why they are in uniform, and if the answers they get are worth fighting and dying for.[1]

Marshall asked Capra to create a series of documentaries to be titled: “Why We Are in the War.” Capra balked,  “General Marshall,” Capra said, “I think it’s only fair to tell you that I have never before made a single documentary film.”
“Capra,” Marshall replied, “I have never been the chief of staff before. Thousands of young Americans have never had their legs shot off before. Boys are commanding ships today who a year ago had never seen the ocean before.”[2]

The Rest of the Story

Capra went on to develop those documentaries for the U.S. Army Signal Corps, giving his greatest talents to the Allied war effort. Why We Fight, the series that Capra directed become documentary classics.  They are now in the public domain. You can see these on YouTube by clicking here.

What is Holding You Back?

Do you feel like you should step up to a challenge, but perhaps you decided against it because you do not have the experience?  Perhaps it is a daunting task, and you do not know if you are up to it. You will only get the experience by stepping up to the challenge.
When you question your capacity to handle the challenge, remember George Marshall’s answer: “I have never been the chief of staff before.” Then, take the plunge.


Jordan, J. W. (2016). American warlords: How Roosevelt’s high command led America to victory in World War II. New York: Caliber. (p. 167).
[2] Jordan, J. W. (2016). American warlords: How Roosevelt’s high command led America to victory in World War II. New York: Caliber. (p. 167).