Have confidants. Have mentors watching you. Listen to sound advice. Question your motives. Do the work of self-awareness. But be wary of the word on the street. It’s a common phrase when someone wants to summarize what they and a few people around them think about your situation. If you let the word on the street, positive or negative, become your narrative, you are no longer the author of your story.
Jason Redman is a retired Navy Seal. His book: The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy Seal Officer, has hit me hard.
Even though a Seal Officer, for 13 years Redman had the gifts but not the graces to be a leader. By his own account he was arrogant and proud. After a couple of missteps that should have cost him his career, the word on the street was he was finished. A few key leaders, however, believed differently.
While picking up cigarette butts on an army base as part of his reforging, Redman had an awakening that changed his life.
Principle #1: Redemption is possible regardless of who you are, but you better wake up before it’s too late.
What follows is an amazing story of exactly that; redemption. As a result of the awakening, his attitude, his habits, and ultimately his life changed. Over time he earned the trust of his superiors and the soldiers entrusted to him. The story could end there and be a movie, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t because life seems to always have another ambush waiting around the corner.
In early September of 2007, Redmen led a team ambushed in a firefight. From less than 50 feet away a machine gun opened up. Three operators were stuck and he was one of them. One bullet shattered his left arm. Another entered his face just in front of his ear and exited his nose, essentially blowing out his face. All in all, he was hit with seven bullets; yet he survived. Word on the street was he wouldn’t, but he did. Survive, I mean, and much more.
His courageous story of comeback and victory is one every leader should read.
One of the keys to the life he enjoys now is a decision he made just days into his recovery and that decision is the point of this blog. His recovery included 37 surgeries, 1,500 stitches, 200 staples, 15 skin grafts, a tracheotomy, and probably still continues in one form or another to this very day.
He made the life-altering decision after hearing guests to his room talk about him when they didn’t know he could hear them. What he heard lit a fuse that ignited a new life. What he heard was pity. Pity, he knew, had one companion always at its side; self. Self-pity was not going to narrate Redman’s show. So he found some card-stock paper, a marker, and made a sign. Here’s the sign:
To be clear, the phrase the word on the street are not, as much as I can remember, included in his book, but the concept is referenced over and over nonetheless. As I listened to Mr. Redman tell his story on the Jocko Willink podcast, I was moved. That podcast, linked below, will likely inspire you as it did me to read the book.
Principle #2: Every leader will face an ambush and their destiny will ultimately be decided by their response to it.
Whether it’s your own pride and ego, or a well hidden enemy determined to take you down, ambushes happen. Don’t give up.
Thank you, Jason for your service to our country and for sharing your story.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-9) “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”