If you have seen the new Paramount Film “Flight” starring Denzel Washington, you have had a true cinematic experience. For those who have not, I will not be so cruel as to give away the plot, as you MUST go and see this great film. However, I would like to take this moment of reflexion and glean some leadership and life lessons that jumped out at me from the big screen last night. But! Before I do, I want to take a moment to give a shot out of Thanksgiving to the great City of Kalamazoo! It is really cool in a city of less than 100,000 people to be able to go downtown and enjoy a movie, a world-class meal and watch any football game I choose all in one Sunday afternoon! If you ain’t “zooing” I have no clue as to what you are doin’!
Ok. Commercial complete. Back to your irregularly scheduled bloggram (i know, not a word, maybe it will trend on twitter)!
The movie tells the story of a life with great triumphs and challenges. It portrays a man with extraordinary gifts, and self-imposed curses. The whole plot falls upon one incident that is the culmination of several life events. While watching the film on the edge of my seat, many lessons both aged and ever-present came to the light for me. I’d like to share those lessons with you in hopes that we all can grow together through this reminder.
Lesson #1: Your gifts WILL make room for you…if you use them.
I believe in the depths of my soul that all of us; including me have gifts and talents that we were born with. I also believe that over our lived experiences we use and express those gifts in the world in ways that have impact, and in ways that frankly have no positive benefit on the world around us. My life changed the moment that I realized that using my gifts, talents and strengths to have a positive impact on the world was my boarding pass to opportunity. As a point of clarification, opportunity is not tied to a career or job or company; opportunity is found in the ‘little things,’ the mundane winds of potential impact that blow through our wings of influence everyday. If we exercise our talents in the public sphere for the public good…the world will stand and take notice. The people that we impact will be the windsock that gives direction for the next leg of our journey all because OUR talent was REQUIRED to solve that EXACT human problem, and ONLY WE were destined to solve it.
Lesson #2: Positioning yourself for a ‘CRASH’ is critical to FLIGHT.
There’s an old adage that states “it’s very difficult to follow a parked car.” I say, ‘It’s impossible to crash a landed plane.’ Now I know that some of you are saying “where in the world is he going with this one?” Well, since you asked…i’ll tell you. In my leadership walk, I have encountered many people who are not extroverts. The social outreach talents are nowhere to be found in their top 5 strengths; yet, they desire more than a cubicle existence. I have also received many requests from emerging leaders and fed-up managers asking for my consultation regarding how they can accelerate, make a move or “get a new job.” My first question in reply is normally “when was the last time you crashed?” I define crash by the phenomenon that happens accidentally in urban, dense environments, and strategically by those who seek to fly. Crashing is all about bumping into new opportunities to grow influence, relationship and connection. Taking time before/after a meeting to make sure that you are acquainted with everyone in the room, or at least those within reasonable distance is an act of crashing. Reading tweets, blogs, posts and magazines that do NOT pertain to your craft, but help you to add lenses to your worldview are all acts of crashing. Having cross-cultural, cross-political, cross-socioeconomic friendships and collegial relationships are all crashes that are critical to ascension in life and leadership. WARNING: Crashing can be scary. A crash has the potent potential of jostling all of our preconceived and comfortable notions that make us safe and sure. Crashes cause reflection. Crashes cause change, break addictions, and bring flight plan clarity. And finally, crashing is NOT fatal. Stretch out. Brace yourself. CRASH!
Lesson #3: You’re gonna need a FARM.
This lesson speaks to me more than you’ll ever know. Sometimes life gets loud. The people close to us sometimes seem to be blasting so much and so that you become deaf. The people in the concentric circles of our life sometimes represent chatter as well. We all need a FARM. Somewhere we can go to get our perspective back. A place where we can recognize beauty again. A place where “the simple things” matter. We must find the place where our ‘give a darn’ doesn’t give out (shout out to Clarence Carter blues). It may be a farm, may be a car ride, may be a childhood fun location…but find your farm! This is the place where you allow your engine to be calibrated and your fuel tank to be filled through the sheer power of blessed quietness. Take care of yourself. Run to the FARM!
No matter where you are in life, I hope these lessons speak to your heart like they’ve spoken to mine, and most of all…I hope you fly!
Peace, Blessings and Love,