Byron's Babbles

Are You Headed For Extinction?

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Top Gun, Top Gun Maverick by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on August 7, 2022

It probably says something about a movie that I am now writing a third blog about in as many days. I just really enjoyed Top Gun: Maverick. Maverick (Tom Cruise), still a captain, is now in his fifties and after yet again demonstrating his rule breaking ways, is tasked with what is said to be his final mission. Maverick has been ordered to train a new group of pilots for what amounts to a suicide mission. As I referred to earlier, I have already blogged about this movie in “How Do I Teach That?” and “Top Leaders Are Single Faced Not Two Faced.” Maverick has matured since 1986, when he was a young hotshot pilot. In 2022, he is a much more mature individual with regrets and a level of humility. Maverick had mature, but still had the core value of helping others. In the beginning of movie a Navy general was looking to shut down a new Stealth airplane project unless Maverick could fly it at 10 Gs. Maverick’s friend, “Hondo” Coleman said to him, “You know what happens if you go through with this.” Risking his safety and career, Maverick responded, “I know what happens to everyone if I don’t.” He did fly the plane at 10 Gs, and of course went past 10 Gs. While I won’t spoil what happened if you haven’t seen the film, teams respect someone who can get results and performs.

A rear admiral tells Maverick, “Thirty-plus years of service. Combat medals. Citations. Only man to shoot down three enemy planes in the last 40 years. Yet you can’t get a promotion, you won’t retire, and despite your best efforts, you refuse to die. You should be at least a two-star Admiral by now, yet here you are. Captain. Why is that?… The future is coming and you’re not in it. Your kind is headed for extinction.” Maverick responded, “Maybe so, sir. But not today.” Maverick proved himself relevant by personally demonstrating how the mission he was training the pilots for could actually be accomplished. When leaders lead by example, it gives their teams hope and inspires them to do likewise. As Maverick said, “It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot.” Maverick also taught us with, “What is achievable comes down to the pilot in the box.” We learned that what is achievable in our organizations comes down the team and having the right people in the right seats on the plane (pun intended).

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