Interesting advice from classic historical fiction about how to build your local ShieldWall Network franchise, using courage, integrity, and not excluding potential members based on class or occupation or educational background. How to gain the support of the community, and the loyalty of your own men.

A quick plot synopsis for you: King Richard the Lionheart has been out of England, waging war as part of the Crusades. He is captured and held for ransom when he attempts to return home. His brother, Prince John wants to seize the throne and be crowned king. The prince is aided and abetted by the Sherriff of Nottingham.

Robin, or Sir Robin of Locksley, is a nobleman who can’t stand by while Prince John savages the countryside, torturing the people into compliance, stealing their crops and animals and daughters, and forcing them to pay ruinous taxes.

Robin assembles a band of Merry Men, and they fight to stop oppression, killing when necessary. They also redistribute income, taking from the rich and giving to the poor.

Eventually, Richard the Lionheart returns to England, and Robin and his Merry Men are crucial to Richard’s overthrowing Prince John and returning to his throne.

And just what are the survival lessons from all this adventurous activity?
Well, first, always remember ALL your stakeholders. Robin is looking out for everyone.

He could care less about class distinctions like Normans (Prince John and his evil gang) vs. Saxons (some English nobles, but mostly the oppressed poor). Even though most of Robin’s work falls into the anti-Norman field, he’s open-minded enough (and open-hearted enough) to fall for a lovely Norman noblewoman, the Maid Marian.

Also, be a straight shooter. Robin is a straight shooter, literally and metaphorically. He tells it like it is, no matter who the audience is, no matter how dangerous the situation. He blusters his way into a banquet of Prince John’s and proceeds to call him a traitor for wanting to depose Richard. He does this while surrounded by dozens of armed men all loyal to the prince. It’s unlikely any of us will face hostile audiences who are ready, willing and able to kill, so if honesty is the best policy for Robin, it’s the best policy, period. It is amazing what good will can do for you when you earn it through honesty.

Robin is a straight shooter with bow and arrow, too. In disguise, he participates in a tournament that he knows is a trap for him. But he shoots straight and wins. Once again, he is almost killed. Once again, the Merry Men help him escape. If you insist on being completely honest in every and any situation, you will find it useful to have the Merry Men around to help you escape tight places. If you don’t have any Merry Men available, be sure to have an executable exit strategy.

Robin succeeds at communicating in this straightforward style because he’s passionate about his mission and he communicates that passion to everyone he meets. The lesson here is obvious; Enjoy what you do.

For crying out loud, Robin’s gang is called the Merry Men. They spend inordinate amounts of time laughing and signing while they steal from the rich and give to the poor. How amazing is it a bunch of men enjoy stealing from much richer men and getting away with it? It’s almost beyond belief amazing. If the Merry Men’s mission is to steal from the rich and give to the poor, they have absolutely no profit. None. Zero. But they pursue the mission with astounding zeal, gleefully giving away all their stolen riches (their profits). They pursue their mission at the risk of life and limb, living at poverty levels in the forest.

If you can get people to enjoy the work at hand, they will put up with many things to accomplish the mission. They’ll even enjoy it.

And, you won’t have to give up all your profits the way the Merry Men did.

The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth,

Jonathan Chambers