Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lessons Learned From The Cuban Missile Crisis

It seems as though the topic of leadership has been pushed to the forefront lately.

With the upcoming election in the U.S., Ontario's Premier stepping down, and the Federal Liberals search for their next leader, leadership is an everyday topic of conversation.

I watched a documentary on the Cuban Missile Crisis today (the Cold War fascinates me) and was struck by the leadership of JFK and Nikita Khrushchev. By all accounts, World War 3 should have broken out in the fall of 1962. In fact, some of the 'experts' featured in the documentary claim that if the scenario were to be run again, the majority of times war would be the end result.

Here are some of my observations from the film:

1 - Both JFK and Khrushchev elected to negotiate before they engaged with force.
How often do I jump the gun and go straight to the aggressive, in your face option? Communication allowed the 2 parties to hear eachother out, gain some understanding of where the opposition was coming from and possibly find common ground. I could definitely implement this in my life.

2 - They sought wise council, but ultimately did what they felt was right in their gut.
It sounded like Kennedy's advisers were all over the map. Most wanting to invade Cuba, lay waste to the Russians forces, and teach the enemy not to mess with the mighty United States. Despite their advisers insistence otherwise, Kennedy and Khrushchev both elected to forego retaliation and believe the best of the other leader. Their council claimed that to not attack would be a sign of weakness, but they realized the decision was ultimately theirs to make, and they would live with the consequences of their actions.

3 - You have got to be lucky to be good.
They got a number of lucky breaks that kept the two countries from going to war. From the early detection of the Soviet arms being built up in Cuba, to the submarine commander surfacing his vessel prior to launching a nuclear weapon. They got lucky.

I can't imagine what life was like over those 13 days. To be on edge, knowing that just 90 miles off the coast the enemy was waiting with dozens of nuclear missiles, waiting for the order to attack.

If you have the time this week, check it out. It's a very cool, interactive documentary with so many layers. I plan on going through it again and watching all the special features.

Let us know what you picked out of the film.


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