Leaders & Listening

December 4, 2015 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

In 1962 I served on the USS Independence, CVA 62, an air craft carrier. In April we deployed to the Mediterranean  for what was to be a period of nine months. Near the end of August we returned to Norfolk, crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 3 days, a trip that under normal circumstances takes 8-10 days for a carrier.

In early September we deployed to the Caribbean. We circled Cuba for 6 weeks. We now have learned the reason for our rapid return to the East Coast – Russia had deployed missiles on Cuban soil, 90 miles from the USA.

We had 96 planes and a crew of 5,000 on that ship. One afternoon in late October we went to General Quarters, a condition of battle readiness. The launch of those planes was scheduled for 4 PM. Normally such drills ended after one hour. 3:15 – still on. 3:30 – still on. At 3:40 the launch was canceled. We came within 20 minutes of nuclear war with Russia! John F. Kennedy was our President at that time. He crafted a deal with Khrushchev that prevented the outbreak of war.

Fast forward to November 6, 2015. We visited the Arlington National Cemetery.  Kennedy is buried there. We viewed his grave site and the flame, etc. Several weeks ago I watched Bill O’Riley’s movie Killing Kennedy. I relived much of what took place in 1962. In the mid 90’s Peggy & I visited Key West Florida. I stood by the pylon that marks the southern most point of land in the USA. It is 90 miles to Cuba from that spot. It was then that I grasped some of the geographical significance of the missile crisis.

It is no secret that Jack Kennedy was a carouser and an adulterer. At one point Bobby Kennedy is speaking to Jack in his office. He covers several issues and then says – – ‘Jack, you have a ‘woman problem’. It is a matter of record that some of the females in Jack’s philandering very well may have presented security risk to our country.

Jack turned his back, walked over to his desk and said indignantly – – ‘is that all’? In that scene he was dismissing Bobby’s rebuke and demonstrating a lethal flaw in the character of any leader. The refusal to hear and respond appropriately to a well placed rebuke.

Real leaders listen. What kind of listener are you?

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