Talk is cheap.
We’ve all heard that phrase often enough, directed at those who spend more time talking than doing – but it doesn’t always hold true.
Sometimes, talk is priceless.
Certain people are blessed with an ability to inspire with their words. These are not the people who simply brag about themselves or use big talk to draw the attention of others.
The people I’m talking about very seldom utter famous last words.
They’re better known for famous first words.
These people go out on a limb and make bold statements that fly in the face of every shred of existing evidence. The result is often remarkable.
Take Winston Churchill for example.
In early 1940, Churchill was an unpopular conservative member of the British Parliament, notable for his outspoken opposition of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement toward Adolf Hitler. Hitler’s armies had run roughshod over the whole of Europe; appeasement had only encouraged him to want (and take) more. Chamberlain’s government unraveled as a result, and Churchill emerged as the new Prime Minister.
Churchill passed on one of history’s greatest opportunities for a new leader to cast aspersions on his predecessor – after all, Chamberlain had been an unmitigated failure.
Europe was in flames.
France had collapsed almost without a fight.
The United States was still isolationist, and wouldn’t enter the war for almost another year.
Britain was entirely alone, and every sign pointed to Hitler crossing the English Channel and taking it, as well.
Facing these odds, Churchill could have easily pointed the finger at Chamberlain, while looking for creative ways to give up.
He could have talked about accepting the inevitable surrender, encouraging the British people to just go along, and submit to their future rulers.
On May 13, 1940, in his first speech as Prime Minister, he said: