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What's the meaning of Pioneers Often Die with Arrows in their Backs

I mean i can roughly gauge it to be the first to move dies, but why arrows in the backs ?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Traditionally in battle those who died with arrows in their backs were running away. That is not the case here.

The suggestion that pioneers often die with arrows in their backs is that those following would attack them, either because the followers did not like where they were being led, or more likely because that the followers wanted to arrive first. As described here, as a phrase it is the opposite of "first mover advantage".

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The saying could be restated as "Visionaries get stabbed in the back" (by the jealous or champions of the status quo, presumably).

"Arrows in the back" is a colorful re-phrasing of "stabbed in the back" using an alternate definition of pioneer as an early American settler who might run into some trouble with the natives.

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I do like the meaning posited by BenOfTomorrow and Henry; however, it could also be thought of as that pioneers often move too quickly, or charge in blindly, and end up in a bad position (behind enemy lines and still charging forward). When you're the first to go somewhere, you don't know exactly where you're going or what lies along the way. A fast move may overwhelm the competition, but they soon come to their senses and can press the advantage you handed them.

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I disagree with all of the interpretations. I think it means the pioneers are the ones who do it the hard way. The learn the tough mistakes only to report back to the others or document their learning so the others do not have to have it so bad. When you blaze a trail it is hard for you but easy for the rest of those who will take that trail in the future.

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