Missing Opportunities

[May 24, 2024]  In 1776 General George Washington feared the superior British Navy might blockade New York City, isolating it from communications with other territory of the American Colonies.  Yet when British General William Howe attacked and destroyed the Americans at Gowanus Pass in Brooklyn Heights, he failed to follow-up by storming the Patriot redoubts.  This allowed the Colonial Army’s leadership to escape.  Good leadership means, of course, not missing opportunities.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas A. Edison, American inventor and businessman

Washington was correct that such an attack would sever the rebellious colonies and allow their piecemeal destruction.  At the battle, the Americans suffered a loss of a thousand casualties which would be difficult to train and replace.  General Howe, on the other hand, failed to follow the advice of his subordinates and did not press the attack to wipe out the Colonial Army’s leadership; including George Washington himself.  Doing so would have ended the rebellion then and there.

Whether it be Decca Records’ refusal to sign on The Beatles singing group, Civil War General George Meade not pursuing and destroying Robert Lee’s army after the Battle of Gettysburg, or France’s army not invading Germany in 1939 when the latter’s entire army was invading Poland, missed opportunities abound.  Hindsight is always 20-20 but it takes a conscientious person to recognize and take opportunities with foresight.

Our personal failures, however, are less often a failure to miss a single major opportunity but the failure to seize on many smaller ones that would make a long-term positive difference to achieve our goals.  Unfortunately, people are often misguided by ideology, prejudices, and biases, frequently miss the chance to make decisions that would be to their advantage.

British General Howe decision to forego a single attack on a small Continental Army redoubt was one of the greatest missed opportunities in the history of warfare.  Those who study leadership are right to review the failures of history’s great leaders for exactly that reason.


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

13 thoughts on “Missing Opportunities

  1. Lady Hawk

    An article all young people should read, along with your books “55 Rules for a Good Life.”

    1. Vanguard

      I second that reference to Gen. Satterfield’s book. It is truly a masterpiece in its recommendations, no, rules that must be followed if you are to have a good life. “55 Rules for a Good Life” tells us the old rules, those rules that never ever change and never will change because they are proven right for thousands of years. Too bad that modern progressive leftists try to twist and beat down these rules, but they are being crushed by the proven needs and desires of humans. They cannot win out as “modern people” that look down on the rest of us. Those “moral superior” people who think they have the solution based in a radical leftist Marxist ideology are only kidding themselves. Don’t fall for their evil.

  2. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Gen. Satterfield, what I like about this article and many that you write, you have given many examples, often commonly known historical references, that bring your point home. As a high school teacher, I strive to do that every day and while it is difficult, it is still necessary. I would hope that you continue leading with examples and I really like the military history that you help put forward. 😊😊😊😊

  3. Chuck USA

    Great Thomas Edison quote: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas A. Edison, American inventor and businessman

    1. Bryan Z. Lee

      Edison was the quintessential American inventor in the era of Yankee ingenuity. He began his career in 1863, in the adolescence of the telegraph industry, when virtually the only source of electricity was primitive batteries putting out a low-voltage current. Before he died, in 1931, he had played a critical role in introducing the modern age of electricity. From his laboratories and workshops emanated the phonograph, the carbon-button transmitter for the telephone speaker and microphone, the incandescent lamp, a revolutionary generator of unprecedented efficiency, the first commercial electric light and power system, an experimental electric railroad, and key elements of motion-picture apparatus, as well as a host of other inventions. Read more about him here:

  4. Liz at Home

    Missing Opportunities …. yes, we do so because we are human but we have the free thinking ability to reject our own infantilism.

    1. Teacher_in_OK

      Hi Jerome, great to hear from you again. And, of course, you are correct that this is a “good message” for ALL of us. We too often miss opportunities even when they are thrown at us in the most raw form. We sometimes are COWARDS of our own fate.

      1. Stacey Borden

        ✔Indeed, cowardice is one of our biggest problems and the ability to take personal responsibility for our own lives. We too often push our responsibilities off onto the government which is a horrible mistake too often in history made us into slaves. ✔

  5. Unwoke Dude

    Volumes could be written about this topic. Opportunities abound but we are too often blinded by other things and, quiet frankly, we are also just too damn lazy to take advantage of the vast majority of opportunities that are presented to us. Just walking down the street, there are many opportunities for anyone but we too chose to ignore them. Then we complain. Ha, stupidity has no bounds.


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