Blowing Up The Idiots In Your Way.
Most of the time, the only thing standing in the way of you being outrageously successful is one big, scary obstacle.
A huge insurmountable mountain of a problem.
A challenge so big and scary that we usually try to peck away at the edges of the issue -- hoping that by tackling the outlying issues that we somehow (eventually) get to take on the real issue standing in our way.
But maybe that approach is horribly wrong.
Maybe we just need to blow through all the issues standing in our way
The Battle of Messines is one of the most shocking stories of World War I.
The battle took place on the western front of Allies campaign in Europe the first week of June in 1917 in the town of Mesen in West Fleming, Belgium. The British 2nd Army under the command of General Herbert Plumer was given the command to open up a path to liberate Europe.
What made that nearly impossible was the location of the enemy and the path through their defenses. The town of Mesen was on a natural ridge that gave the Germans an incredible advantage over the attacking Allies.
Thousands of troops and heavy artillery lined the heavily guarded trenches of Mesen. Sitting directly in the path of the advancing soldiers, the town seemed all but untouchable.
Almost a year before that June 7th battle, engineers from Canada, Australia, and England started work on creating tunnels under the ridge and a series of man-made caverns filled with explosives.
Twenty-one of these chambers were tunneled. And over 455 tons of ammunition and explosives were placed underground -- ready for detonation.
But even creating the tunnels was a work of genius. The soil around Mesen was damp and wet.
Tunnels collapsed as the mud began to slide and erode. The engineers reworked their plans and continued digging. Finally they found a layer of blue clay 80-120 feet under ground. The strong clay allowed them to create almost 5 miles of tunnels under the German position.
But even these tunnels were not without risk. The Germans became suspicious at the odd behavior of the Allies and created a team of anti-miners to find and destroy the Allied tunnels.
The Germans tunneled so close to the Allies that the British soldiers had to sit in quietness and wait for the Germans to move away in a different direction.
Over the next twelve months, the German team of anti-miners found one of the explosive chambers and detonated it. Confident of their find, the Germans returned to their ridge and fortified their positions.
But the Allies continued to dig and build out their trap -- placing even more explosives in these chambers..
(When eventually detonated, one of the largest chambers positioned at Spanbroekenmolen created a hole the length of a football field and 40 feet deep. The Allies had buried 41 tons of explosives over 88 feet under the Germans position without suspicion.)
The night before the offensive, General Plumer called his commanders around him and made the observation that "We may not change history tomorrow, but we will change the geography."
And so the battle was set for 3AM.
The week before the battle, over 2,200 British artillery guns shot an estimated 4 millions shells into the trenches at Mesen. British spies had captured intricate details about the position of German guns, allowing the gunners to precisely target the enemy's heavy guns protecting the ridge.
Starting at midnight each night, the British would shell the Germans trenches -- stopping precisely at 3AM.
The morning of June 7, 1917 was no different. The Allies bombed the ridge relentlessly until 2:50AM and abruptly stopped.
Quietness. Nothing. Not a sound.
The Germans, preparing for an assault of infantry, came out of protection and lined the walls of the trenches. Ready for attack.
But nothing. Only quietness.
2:52AM… 2:57AM… 3:00AM… 3:06AM… Quiet.
At 3:10AM, General Plumer gave the order. The twenty remaining explosive chambers were fired. Even though one of the chambers failed to detonate, the damage was shocking. The entire town of Mesen was destroyed. The ridge leveled.
Immediately, over 10,000 German solders were killed. The damage was unexpectedly horrific. Shockwaves were felt as far away as London.
Twelve hours later, the battle was over. Europe would be reclaimed shortly after this.
What could not be done in months of strategy and battle was done in hours of extreme behavior.
No dancing around the edges.
No attempting small solutions to big problems.
Simply blowing through the idiots in your way.
Sometimes that might even mean the person you see in the mirror.