One of my favorite movies to watch (and re-watch) is Star Trek: First Contact. The 1996 movie has all the best parts of Star Trek, with an engaging story, a seemingly unbeatable enemy, and some scenes that stick with me, nearly 20 years later.
My favorite scene is where Picard (Patrick Stewart) is confronted by Lily (Alfre Woodard) about continuing to fight when all seems lost.
When the crew is overwhelmed, and there seems no hope left….Picard retreats to his ready room to try yet another method of fighting the Borg…because no one else can understand them like he can.
In one of the best moments in the movie franchise, Lily tells Picard….”Captain Ahab has to hunt his whale.” Picard replies that ‘We’ve made too many compromises already…..the line must be drawn HERE! This far, no further!”
For years, I used that line as a motto whenever I felt like I was being pushed in the wrong direction, or things weren’t going my way. I felt that if I stood my ground, didn’t give an inch, and stuck it out….I would eventually overcome the problem or challenge.
Turns out, I didn’t really ‘get’ the scene for a long time. In the very next line, Picard says….
“…and I….will make them PAY for what they’ve done.”
It wasn’t about being noble or heroic at all…..it was all about revenge. The Borg had hurt Picard in the past, and he was going to pursue their end no matter what it cost, even if it was the loss of his ship, his crew, and himself.
That’s why the Moby Dick / Captain Ahab analogy fits the scene so well. Pursuing the ‘white whale’ was only going to end in destruction. The only way to save the crew (and himself), was to abandon ship, and destroy the Enterprise. Once Picard realizes that, his path becomes clear.
Have you ever been so focused on a goal or preserving a status quo that you lost sight of what was really important? Have you ever lost sight of just what hanging onto an idea is really costing you? I know I have – I’ve stayed in jobs that were no longer working, held onto relationships that were no longer healthy, just because I was determined not to give up. (at least as I saw it). I needed to let go of the past and its familiarity…even if the future was uncertain in order to make things better. Making a different decision doesn’t have to mean admitting failure. It can mean that you’ve realized that things aren’t working….and that you can no longer hold on to the status quo.
Some times…..in order to save yourself, and what’s really important…..
……..you have to ‘blow up the damn ship’.