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Do What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are!


Video Length: 0:47 seconds


This short scene from the 1964 movie "Zulu" is based on a true story that saw a decisive victory by the Zulu tribes over a modern British army in 1879. This remains the worst defeat by an indigenous force over a vastly superior military equipped army in the annals of history. The setting takes place at "Rorke's Drift" shortly after the "Battle Of Islandlwana" where over 1,300 British soldiers were killed in a few short hours by over 20,000 thousand Zulu Warriors. The drift was a way post and missionary station bordering on the Zulu Empire. The scene shows the last civilians being evacuated after the 153 soldiers at the drift have been ordered to hold their position. Reports have arrived that the Zulu army is advancing towards "Rorke's Drift" by the thousands. Every person asks this question when confronted with disaster.


“Zulu” was actor Michael Caine’s first movie and it made him a star. The movie, in an edited format, is an excellent example of how a military organization functions. After adjusting to the disaster at Isandlwana, the officers confer and begin planning the defense of the drift. The interaction between enlisted, non-commissioned officers, staff non-commissioned officers, and commissioned officers is fluid and communications are clear. It functions like a well-oiled machine because everyone does their job and helps others with theirs. But what's most impressive is what those 153 soldiers actually accomplished in January 1879. By organizing a layered defense that could retract, and using the ill and wounded in the hospital as gap rifleman, the British held out and prevented over 3000 Zulu warriors from taking the drift and leaving British controlled South Africa open to an invasion.

Eleven Victoria Crosses (the UK version of the U.S. Medal of Honor) were awarded for valor at this single battle. The heroics shown by the Zulu’s during the course of the battle were noted by the defenders of “Rorke’s Drift”, one saying “Like lions they fought!” But that line in the movie rings true when we find ourselves in a situation that we must take charge of and we ask “Why us?”. Colour Sergeant Bourne’s reply “Because we're here. Just us. Nobody else!” is a very honest answer. Truth about what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how it will be addressed are what inspire people to follow a leader in difficult and stressful times.

There are many other facts for the cause of that victory, including the Zulu commander disobeying orders from his king and attacking "Rorke's Drift", before being ready. What is of value in the movie and in the books written about the Anglo-Zulu Wars, is the "Can do, will do" mentality of the two armies. One beating a better armed and trained army and the other holding out against overwhelming odds.

Decision, Design & Discipline:

You can’t always control everything around you, but you can choose how you react to the things that happen. You can complain how unfair things are or what you can’t do with all the things you don’t have or that you're just in the wrong place. You can choose to be a victim or you can be a fighter. You can focus on your excuses, or you can pick yourself up, and get to work.

Every time you tell yourself an excuse and believe it, you’re letting an opportunity slip away. Instead of looking at something as impossible, assess the probable and begin there. Don't think about your fears, focus on your hopes and dreams. Don't let your frustrations about the things that have gone wrong darken your unfulfilled potential. Don't think about what you've tried and failed at, believe in the things that are still possible for you to do.

Whatever the situation, remember the words of President Theodore Roosevelt. "Do What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are."

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