Words Under The Ocean

They were deep under water for less than a minute. 8000 words, broken down into roughly 32 pages. Into a cable like the one shown above.

Tap. Tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap….

Today, February 22, 1946, an American diplomat in Moscow, George Kennan, finished this extraordinary document. Having written it over the course of several days, Kennan used the document to report his views on the Soviet Union as a Communist nation. He wrote to his superiors at the State Department in Washington DC of the threats posed to the United States and the West by Soviet Communism, by the Soviet Union, and by its brutal leader, Stalin. He also described potential ways in which the threat could and should be met.

World War II hadn’t been over for even a year yet. Millions of people in Europe and Asia were still struggling to cope with its aftermath. And here was George Kennan sounding the alarm about a new danger of potential global proportions. He was pushing American policymakers to think, to decide, to plan, to act.

Kennan’s alarm rushed along the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, through the transoceanic telegraph cable that joined the European and North American continents.

Looking back, we see Kennan’s “Long Telegram” as one of the most important documents in the Cold War. Think of him as Paul Revere riding across the bottom of the ocean.

I share this story with you in honor of the day back in 1946. Kennan’s words had an impact that shook more as the next months unfolded. I also share this story with an urging for you to consider a leadership question or two. Do you have someone among your followers whom you trust to analyze and articulate the next big change? Can you do it yourself? Or perhaps you rely on such words coming from outside your team? And what do you need to know after the arrival of this analysis and articulation?

The Long Telegram. A wonderful story. Let me know if you want you and your team to experience it. Thanks for reading. All the best, Dan