Aloha. Fresh off the plane from a vacation with the family in wonderful Hawaii, today’s article is inspired by the trip and includes a little history lesson.

While it may contain the ramblings of a jet-lagged traveler, if you stay with me, I promise it will come full circle. You’ll see why looking at the positive side of a situation, no matter how devastating, can benefit your personal/professional life, including real estate investments. 

Here we go…

We land at Honolulu Airport, grab our luggage from the carousel then head to our hotel in Waikiki Beach.  A bit tired, I sit in the front seat of our SUV listening to relaxing Hawaiian ukulele music with the lush landscape is passing by in the distance.  Then I notice this highway sign: “Nimitz Highway.”

I thought to myself, huh… that’s interesting. I knew Chester Nimitz was a decorated admiral in WWII and had an aircraft carrier named in his honor, but I still wondered why he had a highway named for him. We were headed to the Pearl Harbor Memorial the next day and I hoped to learn more.

The next day, as we left the memorial and headed back to our hotel and enjoy the sands and surf, I continued to reflect on the actions of Kimmel, Short and Nimitz from that day’s visit.

A War Warning

The notice of November 27, 1941, to Admiral Kimmel, began, “This dispatch is to be considered a war warning.” It then went on to say that negotiations had ceased. Then directed the admiral to “execute an appropriate defensive deployment.” Kimmel was ordered to undertake reconnaissance and any other measures he deemed necessary. In addition, a communication to General Short the same day declared that hostile action was possible at any moment. He was also urged measures of reconnaissance. However, as the history books tell us, their response to these warnings and measures that were taken proved far from adequate on that fateful date in December.

A Silver Lining

Sunday, December 7th, 1941, Admiral Chester Nimitz was told by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Nimitz landed in Hawaii on Christmas Eve 1941 to assume command of the Pacific Fleet.  There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat — you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war.  On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese and as the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?”  Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?” Admiral Nimitz proceeded to point out the three mistakes the Japanese made and was able to see a silver lining in a situation and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism.

(Here’s a concise explanation of the highlights on what happened at Pearl Harbor.)  

So why did Nimitz get a highway named after him? And, why in Honolulu?

Seeing what is possible and taking advantage of the opportunities in light of disaster and constraints is what Nimitz did so well.  That’s one of the numerous reasons why he’s memorialized in Honolulu.  It was starting to make more sense.

In our own lives, accidents or challenges happen. Some could have been avoided, others not so much. Our houses may be damaged by water or fire, giving us the opportunity to rebuild, minimize the clutter in our lives, or re-examine our insurance policies. Or, our business models might be subject to unforeseen disrupters, forcing us to pivot and try new technologies or strategies.

So, will you be like Nimitz or Kimmel or Short?

Will there be a highway named after you someday?