Throughout history, countless leaders have suffered the fatal consequences of poorly made decisions. Not necessarily from lack of experience, but from overconfidence due to previous successes that ended up ultimately in catastrophe.
The term used to describe this effect is called “victory disease”.
One of the earliest, and maybe the worst, cases of this disease happened thousands of years ago near a Greek island called Salamis.
In 480 BC, Greece was in a long war against Persia. Greece, which was made up of an alliance of city-states, had joined together to prevent Persia from conquering their land. The Persian army, led by King Xerxes, was large and powerful, and they were winning.
The Persian Empire had expanded west to a large part of Greece, and King Xerxes was determined to conquer all of it. Xerxes’ army easily went through Macedonia and Thessaly as they made their way south to Athens.
Then they reached Salamis. At this time, the Persian navy had 1,207 ships, whereas the Greeks only had 310. Xerxes was confident of his victory. So confident, in fact, that he set up a throne on the shore before the battle even began.
What happened next shocked him.