“Get back on board, dammit!”


Those were the words of Italian Coast Guard Gregorio de Falco to Captain Francesco Schettino while he was abandoning his ship, leaving 4,200 people on board to perish (at least 12 died).

When you “mess up” and difficulty strikes, how do you handle it?

Do you take responsibility, do whatever it takes to make it right, step up and take action (like the Coast Guard)… or do you shirk responsibility, leave the scene of the disaster you created and start looking for someone else to blame (like the Captain)?

The translated exchange between the Captain and Coast Guard is transcribed below. In parenthesis are examples of excuses we might use in our daily lives for not taking responsibility for common failures.

(This isn’t what I envisioned for my life. But I don’t really want to change, please…)

Captain: Please …
Coast Guard: There is no ‘please’ about it. Get back on board.

(But I send out résumés, I leave messages for my prospects, I mail letters…)
Captain: I am here to coordinate the rescue.
Coast Guard (interrupting): What are you coordinating there! Get on board! Coordinate the rescue from on board!

(It’s not my job, the president is supposed to fix it, when Monday comes…)
Captain: (inaudible)… there is another lifeboat…
Coast Guard (interrupting, yelling): You get back on board! That is an order! There is nothing else for you to consider. Now I am giving the orders. Get back on board, dammit! Is that clear? Don’t you hear me?
Captain: I am going aboard.

(The market is down, no one is hiring, our industry is in a recession…)
Captain: Look, chief, I want to go aboard but the other lifeboat here has stopped and is drifting. I have called …
Coast Guard (interrupting): You have been telling me this for an hour! Now, go aboard! Get on board!

The Captain never returned to the ship. According to the harbor master’s office, which notes the final exchange as occurring at 1:46 a.m., Capt. Schettino sought refuge on a rock at 12:30 a.m. Witnesses said he did not return to the ship to run the rescue operations, which went on until 6 a.m.

Tweet from an Italian boy named Salvatore Garzillo: “The next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up I am going to say: ‘a man like De Falco.’”

I’ve fallen off my diet. Get back on board!
I haven’t made my prospecting calls. Get back on board!
I haven’t been tracking my new success behaviors. Get back on board!
I stopped using the Living Your Best Year Ever Weekly Rhythm Register. Get back on board!
I’ve missed our weekly date night. Get back on board!
I haven’t been praising my team like I said I would. Get back on board!
I skipped a couple of workouts. Get back on board!
I’m off track on my goals. Get back on board!

Whatever mistakes you have made, how ever you have messed up, no matter what disaster your results might be right now, have Coast Guard Gregorio de Falco’s voice ring in your head, “Get back on board, dammit!”

Where have you abandoned ship in your life or on your goals? Tell us how you are going to “get back on board” in the comments below.



42 responses to ““Get back on board, dammit!””

  1. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after looking at a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me.
    Regardless, I’m certainly happy I came across it and
    I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!

  2. I truly find you as a very inspiring personality. I am from India and i’ve subscribed to your Success newsletters. I suppose life has much more to offer than we all think. People like you help millions make wise decisions and get back on the Ships we all have abandoned at some point of time in our lives.

    I am working on my dream of achieving financial freedom. It would be great to meet you one day and share my story, once my dream shapes up in reality.

    Thank you Darren.

  3. Have applied the compound effect to every aspect of my life with amazing results. What seems unimportant in the moment has a massive life changing result over time.

  4. This article stands among my life changing favorites. I am going to share it with my friends and family!

  5. This post is truly inspirational. It has giving me the strength to look up. Darren I thank you for this great post. Success magazine has truly made me believe that life happens and that life is also possible. When Jesus Christ failed He picked humility. I have picked discipline. I am owing practically everyone who believes in me, all in my effort to demonstrate best practice in business. Your posts and success magazine is truly an achievers read! God bless you.

  6. Darren:

    Well, precisely, I posted on last weeks post about my weeks top 3 goals: (personal PDA remember?)

    1- got 2 out of 3, so this week, time to get back on board! (d&$@t)

    2- need to focus and act daily on my first year goal (then on to next 2)

    Awesome post, awesome attitude, *stuff* happens so every time, lets get back on board dammit!

    Antonio Soler

  7. Dear Darren,

    Am facing an issue with my superior and I want to get back on board EVERYTIME but he is distracing every moment. My efforts = His comforts, this is his strategy tried convincing him on face to face didn’t work, spoke to superboss he is asking me to send a mail but am confused on drafting it because of too many issues to highlight. Should I need to highlight personal & official distraction or only official. Please revert will wait from you to take ME BACK ON BOARD.

  8. Darren once again you hit the nail on the head. I must say for over 40 years I forgot about my dreams for the sake of others. I remember when I was in High School my dream was to play College football I had great hand that is catching a football. Love the game and was student of the game. But life got in the way with family problems I elected to help out “Not drop out” to help out our family financial problem. I went to work at a young age. From that day forward my dreams were shot to ever play college football and to coach. Not knowing what the Lord had in store for me after 28 years in the ministry and a great family. I never quit dreaming and believing there was a better day coming. Now I have been granted another shot in Life and am back on board. Coaching other to better life of success Spiritually , financially.Changing One Life at a time.

  9. Darren once again you hit the nail on the head. I must say for over 40 years I forgot about my dreams for the sake of others. I remember when I was in High School my dream was to play College football I had great hand that is catching a football. Love the game and was student of the game. But life got in the way with family problems I elected to help out “Not drop out” to help out our family financial problem. I went to work at a young age. From that day forward my dreams were shot to ever play college football and to coach. Not knowing what the Lord had in store for me after 28 years in the ministry and great family. Now I have been granted another shot in Life and am back on board. Coaching other to better life of success Spiritually , financially.

  10. Brilliant post Darren!

    This is the kind of straight talk we need more of in our modern, politically correct, excuse making society. The Captain of this ship is perfect example of what we all need to strive not to be. Thanks for saying it like it is.

    Okay, I’m getting back on board now.

    Rich Proctor

  11. Hi Darren…I fell “out” of my life some years ago..was chronically ill & depressed. In the last few years I have started my way back and I am feeling so much better, but I need to put the negative thoughts away & do as you say …”get back on board”! Thanks for this…needed it!

  12. Where have you abandoned ship in your life or on your goals?

    Darren, I have not abandoned my ship or goals however it’s time for me to become the captain of a bigger ship, goals and am well on my way as I master world class health (competing in my first 1/2 marathon in April, world class family (monthly buckets date with my wife and 4 weeks of family vacation), world class business (grow to a $50 million company and at 50 new jobs this year) to name a few.

    Just wanted you to know that your blog, success magazine, living your best year ever have all help inspire my vision for the bigger ship and goals.

    Come visit our heavy highway business someday in PA for a life changing experience.

    Thank you!
    Barry Schlouch

  13. I havnt left i am still here……BUT i have been away in between approaching full on the networking approach and my admin company.

    I have had over a period of years…perhaps decades is better said left to have a family more than once
    and have ventured thru memory loss off to the likes of other networking companys

    some older sponsors used to plug and know mates who worked in others if the one they were into DID not suit the person they were dealing with.

    I have had assistance this year with catalogue costs BUT an outlay there certainly is
    and without your own pocket and others pockets certainly your own the trading companys and the economy as a whole flounders looking for something to pay a pocket to continue.

    BE patient and you still have me whatever i am into with or without a family

    expect all debt and any arrears gone and dusted in minutes and a BIG plow in and i cannot manage it and dont know many that can without a prize win or a Business grant !!

    BUT the picture is poignant and leaving a real boat i have had to do BUT not as a captain
    and certainly sending off in lifeboats is normally the way for those in command

    BUT were they special need and DEAF and couldnt hear or comprehend the call to abandon his ship

    or perhaps he thought all had gone

    The titanic went down with people being directed along one corridor in one direction when the nearest exit and way out may have been in the other !!

    related to business the way onward or out isnt always clearcut

    Trains also are marked in my history

    being ushered away is normally the way for those that are low sugars and need to eat with a comment of dont worry ju we will deal with that

    they dont need the added pass out so to speak to deal with!

  14. Every year I make a pledge to lose weight and I do. I probably lost a total of 50lbs added all together in 2011… and gained it all back. I’ve gotten tired of the struggle. People are always telling me “you look good; why are you so concerned about your weight?” I’m almost tempted to give up and just accept that I am overweight. But I know that I want to live a good long life and have a healthy family and neither is likely unless I am very healthy. I feel like such a failure in this area of my life; however, I’m not going to give up because at the least if I keep trying and trying to figure out what will really work for me I leave open the possibility that I might actually succeed this time. So, I’m getting back on board for the millionth time it seems but, I won’t give up on good health and a long life.

  15. Great post Darren. I bought, “Living Your Best Year Ever” last year and over the Christmas holidays, I abandoned a couple of my habits and didn’t complete the weekly rhythm register for a week.

    However, when I woke up this morning, I just got straight back into it as if I never had a break. I’m reading your post now smiling to myself at how timely it is.

    Feels good to be back aboard. They say a ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.

    Thanks for the post!

  16. Hey Darren !
    I started Personal Development a month ago by starting reading The Compound Effect in french and LOVE IT !
    I already started reading it again and listening to the Compounf Effect Audio in my car and iphone !
    You’re a GENIUS !
    Results are already there :
    1/ People started to say that they see me with a lot of Energy, Conviction and Motivated
    2/ I started to coach my wife by making a summary of audio and books i listend and read from you and others

    I’d love to meet you in person
    Take care

  17. It seems we need to be reminded of where our duty lies. If we are to steer our own ship (our life) we must be at the helm. To me, “Get back on board” means that through our choices we have responsibilites. It is not all sunshine and vacation. The captain wanted time to sit it out and think about it because it was dark and cold. I have sat out a lot of my life waiting for it to get light and for circumstances to change. Day to day I can choose to pity myself and sit it out or I can do what I can to take control, and direct my life for good. I always thought that different circumstances would make it easier and finally my chance would come, but not – my new circumstances make it harder, and that is why I need to make the changes. Action and facing the truth and stepping out into the dark and cold to make a difference is what will improve my circumstances. I need to take control of, and responsibility for my life. Sitting it out will merely makes me a coward. On those days when I want to wait for better circumstances, I hope Gregorio de Falco’s words will inspire me to my duty. I can only do today’s work in the moment. There is no better time than now. A million after thoughts will not change the actions of the captain in that moment, nor can I recall the wasted moments of my life. I can only use well what I have been given today.

  18. Wow, I’ve been thinking about going back to the “ship wreck” of a business that I left behind. All the carnage, empty promises and the friends and family that I owed money to. I loved the work and thanked God daily for opportunity to do what I love. I made money, but failed misrably. I need the courage to get back on board, reset my sails and take that vessel to waters where my family and I deserve to be. The sun is setting and the tide is going out. The time is now. Thanks

  19. Hey Darren,
    excellent article, I’ve fallen overboard recently. Thanks!
    I’ve recently read, maybe the best book on achievement ever written. It is titled “The Compound Effect”. It’s a life changer, truly. Can’t recommend it enough. You are a true inspiration my friend.
    My sincere thanks,

  20. This was awesome! Just when I thought I had drifted far from my January goal, you come along and say “Get on board, dammit!”

    Truly, when the student is ready, the teacher appears!

    Thanks Darren – The compound effect is awesome!

  21. Where have you abandoned ship in your life or on your goals? Tell us how you are going to “get back on board.”

    I had been exercising consistently for six months…tracking all my workouts. Because of all my new success habits, I was swamped with new clients in December and early January and let the workouts dwindle to nothing. I got back on it this week…starting out slow again and adding a bit more with each workout. My old M.O. would have been to first make sure I beat myself up for falling off, and then set myself up for more failure by trying to start again exactly where I left off, and then beat myself up some more for failing again! My “Why Power” is my children. I am 45 years old, and I am doing everything I can to take care of myself spiritually, mentally, and physically so that when I am old, I will not be a burden on them, if I can help it. I am going to do everything in my power to be a healthy, wise old lady enjoying her children and grandchildren and being enjoyed by them!

  22. I have set some extremely lofty goals for myself this year.

    I have been surprised at how I have fallen behind on a few of them, but I keep pushing forward. I figure these goals will not accomplish themselves so each week and each day I set a certain amount of time and spend that time working on each goal. I keep thinking if I spend a little time each day it will compound into huge results like you taught Darren. If I set to high a time I adjust the following day or week. I may not be where I want to be but no matter what I am staying on board and pushing forward. I refuse to give up!

  23. AWESOME!!!! Not many external influences push my buttons and get me going. I’m not a pessimist, I am just not easily impressed by others. This could not have been written better!!! I LOVED reading every word!

  24. Darren, thanks. This is a great example of leadership gone astray. However, like you’ve mentioned, no matter how difficult a situation or the challenge you may be facing you can always…
    Get Back on Board!

  25. My peak performance partner and others were just talking about this in our meeting this morning. We were using the train analogy, who hasn’t been through a personal or professional train wreck! Get back on board and do your best to help others even though you screwed up!

  26. Wow! What a great inspiration!! As a retired naval officer I cannot imagine the ship’s Captain leaving before all hands were accounted for and rescued! Fantastic call to personal responsibility and perseverence!!! Thanks Darren!

  27. I became comfortable where i was at, and stopped chasing the goals, and just started following them. That’s not who i was created to be. I’ve started reading ‘The Seven Decisions” by Andy Andrews. It’s a, the buck stops here. reminder each morning that I am capable of so much more than I’ve been doing. Mediocrity is the enemy and I must Fight the Good Fight and not waste this gift of life and health I’ve been given. Thanks for being a leader in the fight against mediocrity! G

  28. Holy cow!!! this could not have come at a more appropriate time. Darren this is great you are a true inspiration with what you do. Keep it up!! Posted this on my office door for my staff

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