Leadership under fire
Full Contact Project Management
Sometimes, the news of the day just won’t get out of your way. Only a few months ago, the country was struck by the news of an attack. The unthinkable: terrorist bombers at the Boston Marathon. Three dead and hundreds wounded. Incredibly, after the first explosion, volunteers immediately reacted and began running toward the danger. Some of these rescuers were first responders and military. They understood the likelihood of a second explosion, or more. The second bomb did go off a few moments later, but hardly fazed those who were intent on the rescue.
And just a couple of days after that, the town of West, Texas, suffered a fertilizer plant explosion. Fifteen dead, and a town leveled. Of the 15 killed, 11 were first responders, mainly the town’s volunteer fire department. Danger reared its too-ugly head, and those trained to act and sworn to respond did exactly that – at the cost of their own lives.
The common theme between them was not terrorism, but heroism: leadership under fire.
Weeks later, a Cleveland, Ohio, man who was sitting on his front porch heard screaming from a woman inside a house across the street. It sounded to him like it could be domestic abuse. (By the way, police classify domestic abuse and disputes among their most dangerous calls, and statistics bear that out.)
But this woman’s neighbor disregarded his safety and ran across the street, kicking in a door to rescue her. The amazing thing: She was kidnapped 10 years prior. Even more amazing: There were two other women inside, also kidnapped, and one little girl! Four women owe their freedom to James Ramsey, who risked his.
Some might say that Ramsey was untrained, but I’d argue that. He is a citizen of the greatest nation in the world, despite its faults, where people do believe in freedom and opportunity. People believe that innocent life should be protected. He had been trained for a lifetime.
Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001, and what do you remember seeing? For hours, I sat in front of a TV, confused and saddened. But I also recall being encouraged by yet another display of leadership under fire. How could you not? To see citizens and public servants come together and do what they could, dealing with the devastation, as it all unfolded.
But here's the thing that got me the most: Did you know that many of the firemen entering those towers first stopped at the chaplain, and had him administer to them the Last Rites? Separate out the religious aspects of it, and think about the meaning in the here and now. They realized that they were very likely going to their deaths, and yet they did just that.
On that same day, out of that same American Spirit, we saw a group of passengers aboard Flight 93 take on the hijackers, and spoil the attempt at crashing into the White House. The now-famous saying, of Todd Beamer, "Let's Roll," was born that day.
And at the Pentagon, other countless acts of heroism played out.
Our history is filled with such accounts. On Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. Navy was attacked and the fleet decimated. But did you know this: A sizeable percentage of those bombed-out ships were repaired and placed back into service, within months, taking the fight to the enemy.
And just 4 ½ months after Pearly Harbor, Lt. Col. James Doolittle launched a surprise attack of B-25 bombers off of the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, and bombed Tokyo. None of those planes made it to where they were supposed to land after completing the mission, but the mission was completed, and the flight crews participating knew the risk ahead of time. They were more than willing to accept it.
We see, in our midst, exceptional people doing incredible things. By contrast, our mission is simple. Get good training and make smart decisions. Align yourself with people who can help you with that. A great resource for us is the MCAA. They are not quite the same as the USS Hornet launching an attack, but they are a floating base that is always there, ready to equip, refuel and re-arm us. It, too, is an organization with leadership tested under fire.
In 2013, expect more. Never surrender.
About the Author
Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at FullContactTeam@gmail.com.