During World War II, Tirpitz was the sister ship of the German battleship Bismarck. After the destruction of Bismarck in May 1941, German high command decided not to risk Tirpitz in the open seas and keep her secured and protected in Norway’s fjords.
Tirpitz was a formidable enemy, originally designed to hunt and destroy Allied convoys. Allied naval command kept a close watch on her location, yet in June 1942, they lost her whereabouts. Fearing that she had left port and was on the hunt, Allied command ordered the military escorts of convoy PQ-17—on its way from Iceland to the Soviet Union—to abandon formation, scatter, and return to safety. As a result, many helpless merchant ships of PQ-17 were hunted down and sunk by prowling German U-boats and aircraft. Later, it became clear that the decision to abandon convoy PQ-17 was based on faulty intelligence: The Tirpitz had not left her base at all.
This story is an example of actual, major losses, incurred by the overwhelming fear of losing. This behavior—Tirpitz Timidity—is unfortunately very common. If fear drives our decisions, we are playing not to lose, instead of playing to win.
The tragic story of PQ-17 is therefore a cautionary tale for all of us. The things we regret most in life, are often the things we either did, or didn’t do out of fear.