Unlike the Black Knight, do your fighting up front

by | Jan 25, 2022

Over the Christmas break, I re-watched that classic movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.

It still cracks me up after all these years. The sheer brilliance of that group still shines bright.

One of my favourite parts is the Black Knight scene.

If you need your memory refreshed, King Arthur and his companion Patsy approach the Black Knight who is guarding a ”bridge” over a stream. The Black Knight declares that None Shall Pass, and a swordfight ensues. King Arthur gradually severs all the Black Knight’s limbs, but throughout the battle, the Black Knight declares that “Tis but a scratch”, and fights on. Eventually, with the Knight calling the fight a draw, Arthur crosses the bridge and proceeds on his way.

Do your fighting in advance

The reason I’m bringing up the topic of the Black Knight is that some business owners act the same way. In the face of insurmountable odds, they fight on. Even when the wounds are mortal, they stand bravely, declaring that nothing will stop them. Until they can’t stand any more.

Now I’m not advocating that you head for the exits at the slightest hint of trouble in your business. No business would survive more than a few months under that scenario!

What I am advocating is that you try to do your fighting in advance. Unlike the Black Knight who had but a single plan – “None Shall Pass” – the sensible thing to do is to think about what may come along and challenge you. Doing that achieves three important outcomes:

  1. When you think about the events that could happen, you can figure out ways to either stop it happening at all, or at least lessen the impact. More armour for the Knight? Maybe he could change careers?
  2. If the event does come to fruition, you will know how to deal with it because you have already thought through the consequences. A good battle plan for the Black Knight would have been to come to an agreement with King Arthur after his first arm was removed!
  3. Lastly, your protection plan will give you the option of leaving the field before the death-blow. If you have done your fighting in advance, it will be clear to you whether you have a chance of survival. If you do, go for it – using all the information and intelligence you have gathered. If not, you are able to retreat gracefully with enough left to fight again another day.

A short time now can mean survival later

My point is that a small amount of time spent now can save a world of pain later. If the business crisis you are facing has the potential to be fatal, it may be better to seek a dignified exit now. That will leave you with your limbs (bank account, health, family, mental health …) intact.

We never do see what eventually happened to the Black Knight in the movie, but I’m sure it wasn’t a good outcome. Don’t be the Black Knight.


PS if you need to see it again, here’s a link to the clip on YouTube.  Go on – watch it and have a laugh.