For quite a while now, my wife has been recommending I read Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. She’s a librarian and a voracious reader. I seem to have managed to read everything I ever wanted to by the time I escaped graduate school (a long time ago if you’re keeping score). I start reading books, but for some reason beyond my comprehension, I rarely finish reading them.
So when the movie version of the book came out, we planned to go see it, but by the time we got organized enough to go out (we have twins, ‘nuff said), it was already on Blu Ray. We finally watched it this weekend.
I think I will read the book now.
In short, Unbroken is the story of the life ofLouis “Louie” Zamperini. He begins a bit of a childhood delinquent, then rises to Olympic fame for the US in 1936. Shortly thereafter, he finds himself an Army Air Corps bombardier (B-24 bomber) in the South Pacific during World War II. His bomber crashes and he and another survivor are adrift for 47 days in a life raft. Barely alive, they learn their struggle had just begun; their “rescuers” were Japanese sailors who captured them. Interred in a prisoner of war camps, Louie faced some of the most incredible torture and depravity any human could imagine.
As you can tell from the book’s title, he refused to give up, despite all that was thrown his way. In fact, he not only endured, he overcame and an incredible turn, he forgave. I encourage you to read the book (or at least watch the movie).
This article is not meant to be Louie’s story retold. But his story inspired me.
How often do we find ourselves faced with an obstacle? Daily? Hourly? I guess it can be counted in terms of scale, right? Or need, or even expediency. Some battles are not worth fighting for. Or maybe not right now. Whatever the frequency, what’s your reaction?
As leaders, do we take a firm stand in face of obstacles? Or do we ‘break’? I’m not talking about principles. I’m talking about how we push through obstacles.
Examples can be, budget surprises, people (staff or volunteer) issues, family concerns, solitude or even inexperience.
Do you ‘break’ when things don’t go as planned? Or do you stand firm, as Louie did?
For me, I find that when my priorities are unclear, it’s much easier to get distracted (break) and go off course. When I let doubt or uncertainty gain ground, I flounder.
What about you?
Here’s what I know to be true about leadership. We are all people. We experience obstacles. Some are immovable objects. Some, however, are our own views on what’s in front of us. In other words, “it’s not as bad as you think.”
What can you do to experience more Unbroken Leadership?
- Build a foundation on firm ground. Craft your leadership plan, tied to your vision, with clarity in priorities.
- Stick with your plan. Louie was motivated by something his big brother taught him, “If you can take it, you can make it.” When the heat gets turned up, can you take it? Can you stay with your plan, no matter what?
- Remember who’s watching, and counting on you. Sometimes it’s this personal component that tips the scale. Those you’re leading depend on you, and your strength. They’re counting on you. Don’t let the obstacles dictate.
- What you lead is greater than you. Counting on your own strength is not enough. Pray for wisdom, and use that wisdom to find strength to persevere.
Are you committing, and recommitting, to Unbroken Leadership? Daily? Hourly? Let me know the obstacles you’ve overcome, or are facing now.