I'm not one to swoon over anyone in Hollywood, with one exception...Robert Redford. I love his movies with no partiality to young Redford (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Three Days of the Condor), middle aged Redford (The Natural, Out of Africa) or the well aged Redford I saw this weekend in The Last Castle. Though over the years it hasn't hurt that he's not at all bad to look at, his appeal for me is mainly linked to the characters he plays. This is why I sat down to watch him in this flick again though I've seen several times before, but this go around I found a different spin to the story.
Redford plays an admired and decorated general who has been court martialed and sentenced to ten years in a military prison. The warden, the guards and the inmates all recognize and immensely respect him, but he has accepted that his punishment is deserved, shuns the attention, and states that he will no longer be 'fighting anyone, for anything, anymore.' However, it quickly becomes evident that he cannot help but get involved in the events at the prison; he starts by challenging the punishment of an inmate he befriended and soon leads an uprising targeting the overthrow of the warden for his cruel treatment of the prisoners.
Like Redford's character, true leaders can't help themselves.
True leaders find themselves drawn to battle. It isn't about the title or the power or the prize because, more often than not, there are faster and easier ways to achieve those goals.
In times of sticky politics, rampant self interest and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the fire in the belly that brings you to lead is what keeps you coming back for more. And here is how it looks...
Don't call me 'sir', I'm not a general anymore.
Redford's character chastised an inmate for respectfully calling him 'sir' even though his title had been taken away. As it turned out, having the title of 'general' wasn't what made him behave like a general. The energy and courage and desire to rise to the challenge doesn't start or end with a title or assigned authority.
Making mountains out of molehills.
Passion for doing what's right, for fighting even the small battles, and for finding satisfaction in forging the way to make it easier for those that come after you can often go unnoticed and unrecognized. Finding satisfaction nonetheless is the sign of a true calling.
When the going gets tough on the road less traveled.
It's easy to avoid conflict and even easier to create it and run. Not only does it take courage face adversity, but it takes a true leader to want to stick around and see it through.
Robert Redford gets to play the part and then move on to the next movie...this week ask yourself if you are playing the part of a leader or if you are a leader. And can you help it?