My all time favourite TV series is M*A*S*H, a comedy/drama centred around the doctors and nurses of the 4077th M*A*S*H unit during the Korean War. The series was so popular that it outlasted the duration of the 3 year war, spanning 11 seasons and 251 episodes.

The strong characterisation and story lines presented thought provoking themes that provide an ideal platform for lessons on life and leadership. Whether you are a fan of the show or not, I'm sure you will connect with my leadership insights from M*A*S*H.

LEADING FROM THE TRENCHES features bite-sized, candid insights that speak into the gritty space of leadership through the eyes of a fellow leader seeking to "lead with all diligence" (Romans 12:8).

Monday, September 17, 2012

Friendly Fire

Episode 17:  Sometimes You Hear The Bullet

Hawkeye:    “You never hear the bullet.”  Is that a book?
Tommy:     Yeah, it’s about the war.  And it’s being written by a soldier, not a correspondent.
How can I explain it to you?  Ok, there’s always that big blond kid in all those war movies. The one that should never die but always does.
Hawkeye:    Yeah, and they bring him back to life in the next movie.
Tommy:     Right.  You always hear this big, loud ricochet just before he gets killed.  Well, that’s not the way it really happens.  There was a young blonde kid in our outfit.  One day I looked over and half of him was gone.  And you know what he said?  He said, “I never heard no bullet.”  That’s why that book is called what it’s called.

Hawkeye’s friend Tommy makes a surprise visit to the 4077 and shares his idea about a book he is writing based on his experience in combat.  Later, he returns to camp injured and rethinks the title of his book, because unlike his original title, he heard the bullet that hit him coming.

One of the harsh realities of leadership is that leaders come under fire from those they lead, and often don’t hear or see it coming!  This is most painful when it comes from people you have invested enormous amounts of time and energy into their personal and professional lives.  I find it easier to deal with when I see it coming, as I understand that conflict is an unavoidable part of leadership. But it is the unsuspecting attacks from unsuspecting people that has the biggest impact on me.  I have learnt that to guard my heart against friendly fire I need to depersonalise the attack and remember that hurting people hurt people.  It is rarely about me, and when it is I need to have the humility to deal with my part in the issue. When it is not, I need to have enough empathy to look beyond the attack and respond to the cause of the pain driving the behaviour.

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