Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell

On October 22, 1707 Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell was in charge of five English warships off the coast of France.  The dreary, gray skies made navigation difficult and Shovell wasn’t quite sure just how close to the coast they were.

A young, unnamed sailor, fearing what he believed was an eminent crash due to Shovell’s poor navigation, came forward and admitted that he had also been keeping track of the fleet’s whereabouts….and he thought Shovel was steering them toward disaster.

Shovel promptly hanged the poor sailor for mutiny.  

Less than 24 hours later three of Shovell’s five ships had crashed into the rocky coast Shovell had been warned about and sank.  Nearly two thousand sailors lost their lives in the catastrophe.  Shovell made it to shore and was promptly murdered by a local woman, who coveted a ring he was wearing.

There can be little doubt that pride played an enormous role in the Shovell’s shipwreck.  After all, he wasn’t just the Admiral of the fleet, he was Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell, a man of rank and stature that would have had little use for the opinions of a lowly sailor.

So the next time somebody comes to you and warns that your life is about to be shipwrecked, they may very well need to be ignored.  But before you ignore them, remember Shovell and those two thousand sailors who drowned because of his pride.  If we ignore warnings out of pride, we may be putting a lot more than ourselves at risk.

When a friend tells us that we need to better control our kids, when a parent tells you that your skirt is too short, when a coworker tells us that we’ve been slacking on the job….those warning may need to be ignored.  But only after we strip away our pride and really consider the warning on its own merits.