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Americans on Okinawa hear of victory in Europe
Americans on Okinawa hear of victory in Europe
May 10, 2015 7:00 AM CDT

Defining moments seen in your leadership

Full Contact Project Management


Sometimes you’ve just got to be reminded of what’s what, don’t you? Never was that made any clearer to me than a little while ago, when one of my mentors was giving a pep talk to a bunch of us.

The essence of what Coach Kenneth was trying his hardest to make us all believe is that what we might call a “defining moment” only occurs in the presence of conflict or multiple options. In other words, during those times when you’ve got to make a choice, when you must decide who you are going to serve.

Coach Kenneth was telling us that, regardless of which way we went, we were making a choice to do something, or to not do something. It’s our choice, and that choice defines us. Would we just pack up our tents and go home, or would we respond with action, and go for the win? We would have to risk failure, and people would know, but the alternative seemed unthinkable. Sometimes, silence is golden, but there are many times when silence is cowardice. Speaking out and speaking up with courage is called for.

Our country is about to celebrate another anniversary relating to World War II. What used to be known as “V-E Day” (Victory in Europe) was 70 years ago, May 8, 1945. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and others faced that question, made that choice, to risk everything. As the famous saying goes, “All gave some; some gave all.” At least, they all faced a defining moment. And we owe a great deal to their training, skill and sacrifices, because those actions have preserved peace for us, until now. They had the courage to stand up and not only face down evil, but face their own fears.

A stunning lesson out of those times is the realization that silence is not an option. Politicians back then relied upon trying to make a deal with the devil in order to achieve peace: bad idea. Later, millions and millions of people kept silent about wartime atrocities: horrible idea. They should have – and could have – been courageous when faced with a defining moment in their lives, but failed.

As we all struggle with the uncertainties of a still-sluggish economy, and strategize on how our businesses might fare better in it, we face lots of decisions and defining moments. The question of our time is this: Can we maintain integrity and still survive? Fortunately, history suggests that we can.

Coach Kenneth emphasized that the opposite of courage is not fear, but conformity. But here’s the thing. You have that kind of an opportunity in front of you, right now. I don’t know what yours is, but we all have at least one, right in front of us. If we take it on, go for the win, and overcome it, then it’s our story people are telling. On the other hand, if we do nothing, say nothing, try nothing, and then the predictable will happen: Nothing will change.

We can slink away, lick our wounds, and curse our bad luck. People will hardly miss you. Some folks might take the newspaper account, if there is one, and line a bird cage bottom with it. For others, those who risk – and succeed – that newspaper or magazine article goes into a picture frame or a bronze plaque and mounted on a wall. It’s a narrow edge – the difference between trying and not, of winning and losing.

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


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