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I have recounted this story a few times over the years, but not nearly enough that it’s not worth repeating. One of my favorite pastimes is reading books on the early explorers. Something about their guts, vision and tenacity impresses me and fires up my imagination. One of my favorite books is the Dogs of God - Columbus, the Inquisition and the Defeat of the Moors. James Reston, Jr. wrote the book.

In the book the author tells a detailed event in Columbus’ life that almost changed the course of history. As early as 1484, Columbus was making presentations to the various Monarchs in the hopes of raising money for the adventure. One of his presentations was to Dom Joao, the king of Portugal. In those days the leaders surrounded themselves with advisors, mostly from the Catholic Church. One of these advisors was Bishop of Ceuta, and he suggested that they string Columbus along for months. Over that time, they would ask him for more charts and data. All the while, the intention was to sail their own fleet, using Columbus’ data to see if they could discover the new world on their own. (Imagine that…a high-ranking religious leader lying to a salesperson…way back then!)

Under the lie of sailing on a routine mission to the Cape Verde Islands, captain Ulmo set sail for the new world. A few days out, Ulmo ran into severe storms and stiff headwinds. He proclaimed Columbus’ vision absurd and turned back. Columbus eventually discovered this and was furious that they stole his information. Just think about it…we would be celebrating “Ulmo Day” instead of “Columbus Day".

So the buyer’s system has been around over 500 years. The Bishop mislead, gathered info, committed to nothing and then was unreachable.

Are you still falling into the same trap?

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