For want of a nail

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.
For want of a horse, the rider was lost.
For want of a rider, the battle was lost.
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
By George Herbert

There are many stories in history that demonstrate how a small decision changes the course of events.

One example of this was late in August 1485 and two opposing armies had been bat-tling a long and devastating war.

A war that had ravaged both nations.

One of the king's assistants took the king's horse to the blacksmith in preparation for the pending battle.

“Shoe him quickly, for the king needs to ride him to battle this very day,” said the groom.

The blacksmith went quickly to work. From a bar of iron, he made four horseshoes which he hammered and shaped and fitted to the horse’s hooves. But after fixing two of the shoes, he found that he didn’t have enough nails for the remaining pair.

“Three nails in each shoe will hold them on,” said the blacksmith. “Yes, I think we may risk it.”

So he quickly finished the shoeing and the groom hurried to lead the horse to the King.

As King Richard III rode his horse into battle one of the horse’s shoes flew off and the horse become lame, then another shoe came off and the King was thrown off his horse.

Needless to say, the crucial battle was lost, thousands of troops were slaughtered and the power swung to the other side.

All for the want of a nail – who would have thought such a little thing could have such profound ramifications!

There are so many lessons to take away from this one story and at this time of the term when we are weeks away from entering end of semester assessment, it is timely to take note.

It is important not to cut corners.

Take the time to complete tasks and to work on these tasks to the best of your ability. When we start to cut corners around the task or the time needed to complete the task properly we are leaving ourselves open to something going wrong, inviting the chance of failure.

Imagine the preparation and planning that would have gone into the attack by the king and his army. For them to think they would attack and win they would have to feel they had covered all their bases, yet it was the seemingly insignificant issue that made the difference.

It is sometimes not the things we see that make the difference, but rather it is the things that go unnoticed.

We don’t often think about the words that come out of our mouths; yet a kind word can brighten someone’s day and a bad word can destroy a friendship.

For the want of a poor decision or unwise choice events can lead to consequences that you did not foresee.

That decision to carry your mobile phone between classes when you know that you should have put it in your locker. That decision not to wear the winter uniform correctly at school or at Saturday sport when you had already decided to stay and watch the Firsts. That decision to call out in class, or that decision to put off study or revision until it was too late.

These are decisions that can have implications for you, the people around you, your teachers and your family.

So as we enter the midpoint of the term, we need to ensure we don’t cut corners, we have high standards across presentation, behaviour and academic work.

So that the little things don’t become big things that change the course of our own histo-ry.

Tony Dosen
Deputy Headmaster