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December 13, 2003

OBE 'd : Overcome By Events

One of my top ten all time favorite expressions is: OBE'd, or Overcome By Events. This came from my great friend Ray, who is dead now, but he was the finest sailor and the best leader I ever knew. But anyway, it's used in conversation like this:

Q: Ray, how come you didn't (insert task) like you were gonna?

A: Man, I was OBE'd.

OBE is a non-actionable response. You only tell somebody you've been OBE'd if it's somebody you trust with the truth, and it's somebody who understands how events can grab you, and if the events are truly serious. It's a statement of respect and truth between equals that precludes any follow-up.

What brings this to my blog is I just found OBE'd (which I always thought was Ray's word) in an online dictionary. Take a look at:


Anonymous said...

Overcome By Events (OBE) or Overtaken By Events (OTBE), is a term of military origin used when a situation changes so rapidly that previously proposed courses of action are no longer relevant.

Rick Umali said...

I remember learning about this at work. Projects would get proposed, and some progress would be made, but eventually they would fall by the wayside. Whenever a followup was made, I'd sometimes hear "Oh yeah, that's now OBE."

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