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How to Get on

A good many years ago the United States was at war on the island of Cuba.

The American President McKinley wanted to send a letter to Garcia, the Cuban leader, but did not know how to get it to him, as the rebels were fighting with the Americans in wild and difficult country.

When he was talking it over with his advisers, someone said: "There's a young man called Rowan who seems to be able to get anything done that you ask him. Why not try him ?"

So Rowan was sent for, and when he came in, the President explained why he had sent for him and, putting the letter in his hand, said, "Now, I want that letter taken to Garcia."

Rowan simply smiled and accepted the letter. He walked out of the room and set out.

Some weeks passed, and Rowan appeared again before the President and said, "I gave your letter to Garcia, sir." Of course McKinley made him explain how he had done it.

It turned out that Rowan had taken a boat, had landed on the coast of Cuba, and had disappeared into the jungle. In three weeks' time he reappeared on the other side of the island, having gone through the enemy, found Garcia, and given him the letter.

Rowan was a true scout. The way he acted is the way a Scout should carry out an order when he gets it. No matter how difficult it may seem, he should tackle it, with a smile. The more difficult it is, the more interesting it will be to carry out.

Most fellows would have asked a lot of questions-how they were to set about it, how they could get to the place, where they were to get food from, and so on. But not so Rowan. He merely learned what duty was wanted of him, and then did the rest without a word, kicking the IM out of the word IMPOSSIBLE. Any fellow who acts like that is certain to get on.

A lot of Scouts do special messenger service. These lads, from having difficult jobs frequently given them and being expected to carry them out successfully, take them on with the greatest confidence, and, without asking a lot of silly questions, they start off in a businesslike way, and do them.

That is the way to deal with any difficulty in life. If you get a job or have trouble that seems to you to be too big for you, don't shirk it. Smile, think out a way by which you might get successfully through with it, and then go at it.

Remember that "a difficulty is no longer a difficulty when once you laugh at it-and tackle it".

Don't be afraid of making a mistake. Napoleon said, "Nobody ever made anything who never made a mistake."


Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell (Chief Scout, London, UK)

Date of Creation


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