In the early 1600’s Sweden rose to a world power in part due to their grand navy. At the time, the King was Gustav II Adolf who was known as a charismatic leader and a brilliant tactician.
Gustav decided to create a ship named the Vasa for himself and so he assigned the finest shipwrights around the country to come help build this surely eminent ship fit for the King of Sweden.
One day during the build Gustav passed by the ship when he notice the size. It was so small! At the time the shipwrights had laid down most of the ribs of the ship, and so to make the ship even more grandiose they would need to unfasten the ribs and start over again. Gustav said “No.” He told them that instead of unfastening everything, to just keep adding to the ribs of the ship and make it longer. Upon hearing this, every shipwright knew that was foolish, shortsighted, and would ultimately lead to a skinny long ship. Regardless, they did it because no one would dare speak up to the King.
At this time, it was custom for a ship to have only one row of cannons. Gustav told his shipwrights he wanted three. Not only did the shipwrights go along with that suggestion, but they were told to put the heaviest cannons on top, as Gustav suggested.
On August 10th, 1628 the Vasa set sail as a long, skinny and top heavy ship. People came from all around to watch the event. The shipwrights spared no expense on the finishing touches and the ship had all the finest trimmings. As it made its way through the port all the people cheered. The sailors were beaming, and Gustav could not be more proud. After it left the port, it sailed for a total of 4,200 feet before it tipped over. Water rushed in through the ports, and it sank to the bottom of the sea.
Here Gustav created an environment where those who really knew were too afraid to speak their truth. Wherever we’re at in our lives we will always have people that report to us (coworkers, children, etc.) and people that we report to (a spouse, bosses, etc.)
As we reflect on those we work with and communicate with throughout the day, are we making sure we speak our truth? Is there open communication with a sense of humility (being teachable) so those around us who really know can open up and speak up?
Remember to speak your truth, and let others do the same.