On this Memorial Day weekend I am thinking of those who have given their lives in the service of our country, and what all of that means. Thoughts are scrambling through my mind: the horror of war, the families of the fallen, patriotism, the freedom that has come from a strong U.S. military, the use and abuse of the military, the veterans’ needs that are not being addressed, the commercialization of holidays, how Rolling Thunder feels about Sarah Palin stealing some of their thunder, etc.
Sounds like I have had more than my share of caffeine this morning, doesn’t it? So let me move on to my main point.
One thing I often do in leadership and goal-setting retreats is a play a clip from a movie, and then have the group discuss its meaning. I encourage participants to put themselves in the role of each individual in the scene and talk about the scene from the perspective of that particular character. “Perspective” is a big thing with me because I have come to the belief most people have an opinion about things and most people are right in their opinions from their perspective. After one particular leadership retreat – Selected to Serve – I noticed that I had used scenes from Patton, Twelve O’Clock High and Gettysburg. Patton’s opening scene speech is a great example to use to discuss the elements of oral communication by leaders, General Savage and Colonel Davenport are classic examples of Theory X and Theory Y managers and Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain provides an opportunity to discuss decision-making under pressure.
I wondered if I was using too many military leadership examples. After all, there are plenty of leadership issues in other movie scenes. And then it dawned on me why the military scenes were so powerful. The stakes in military leadership scenes are so high. The decisions that military leaders must make are so often literally life and death.
Lest we forget. Happy Memorial Day.