Give Me A Number…I’ll Give You The Guts…

“…to NOT fight back.”

This was Jackie Robinson’s response when he was asked to turn the other cheek to racial bullying; and my most memorable quote from the movie 42.

Jackie’s response and his story of becoming the first African American in modern history to break Major League Baseball’s racial segregation illustrates the stages of leading.

I summarize my idea in 5 steps.

I. Agreement to a high stakes dream
Breaking the color barrier by keeping quiet during the onslaught of racial antagonism wasn’t a walk in the park.

Similarly, leaders give up the right to have emotional breakdowns and whining. Leaders are responsible for setting the example, no excuses allowed.

II. Realization than the dream is bigger than the person
To Jackie this happened during spring training when his landlord tells him that other people are placing their hopes and dreams on him and calling him a hero.

We, like Jackie, embark on the journey excited about building something great. But things can change when someone helps us realize the dream is more than we can swallow. We feel like we are way over our heads, and our confidence begins to fade.

This is when step III comes into play.

III. Someone believed in him
When Jackie started doubting himself, Branch Rickey, the team owner, encouraged Jackie by empowering and believing in him.

Had this happened to you? How did it make you feel? As leaders, we must do the same with our team and others.

IV. A support system
Jackie’s wife, the team’s owner, other players, and the manager of the team all supported him along the journey.

We have to recognize that we can’t physically do it all, someone is always lending a hand.

V. People joining the movement
In a very memorable scene, in front of a bullying crowd, Pee Wee Reese walks to Jackie and puts his hand on Jackie’s shoulder says: “Thank you Jackie, I need them to know who I am.”

To me, this is the symbol of a supporter becoming a rider on the bus. This is when an individual voluntarily joins the leader’s movement.

Leadership is an arduous journey. Do we have the guts to not fight back and let our work do the talking?

 

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