|“The Darkest Hour” is an amazing film and one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. It is the story of Winston Churchill becoming Prime Minister and his beginning to lead Britain into WWII. He was their brightest star, in their darkest hour.
For those of you familiar with the Vision For Your Life program you know that I often talk about the difference between a “plot driven life,” and a “character driven life.” The paradigm comes from a review I read of a show in Toronto, which asserted that most theatre falls into either a character driven or a plot driven show. The long-running Agatha Christie play, “Mousetrap,” is a great example of a plot driven show. At the end of the two hours you know who committed the murder but you don’t know much about the person who did it. It’s not about them; it’s about solving the murder.
On the other hand, the movie “Good Will Hunting,” is a great example of a character driven show. It plumbs the depth of the character, Will Hunting, and only requires a very thin plot to enable us to see the deep side of Will. (note: for those of us addicted to “This Is Us,” it too is a character driven show.)
Life can be looked at in a similar way. We can either live plot driven lives – school, career, marriage, kids, retire, die – or we can look at life from the perspective of being character driven. The “character driven life” asks, “Who am I?” and “What is the depth of the person who is living this life?” Once you understand the “who,” then you can determine the “what.” When you know who you are, then you can decide what plot to live. In other words, “Know who you are and be it!”
Occasionally there is a story about a life that combines the depth of character and an incredible plot, and such is the case with most of the great leaders in history. In “The Darkest Hour” I was reminded again of the remarkable life of Winston Churchill. I had read the Martin Gilbert biography of Winston Churchill many years ago and as I watched the portrayal of this great man on the screen it brought back my memories of the biography.
Here was a man of great character; a man who knew himself well and was comfortable in his complexities. He was a deep man, experienced in deep human emotions, incredibly well read, and had seen the good, bad and ugly of life. He had done more by the time he was twenty-five years old than most people do in a lifetime. He was old when he had the most influence but his age was his greatest asset because he had seen much and learned much from life.
He was thrown into the greatest plot of the last century and the character and the plot came together to save Western Civilization and to form a story that will be told for the ages.
Churchill fought his own party who didn’t like him. He fought the opposition party who was, well, the opposition. He fought the King who was afraid of him. He spent his life fighting! And in his country’s darkest hour it was him, the outcast, the troublemaker, the outspoken critic of the status quo, the fighter, who rallied a nation and fought the evil of Nazism and Hitler.
His was a life well lived.
There is an example here for all of us. We must know the depth of who we are and we must get comfortable with it. We must be comfortable in our own skin – warts and all – and be ready to take it out there and be that person. An advertising executive once described his business as “standing naked before the ruling class,” and I think that’s the sense of what I’m saying. We need to be comfortable enough with who we are at our depth – at our core – that we are able to take it out there and “stand naked before the ruling class.” Then we must engage in the plot. The big plot. The big battles. The ones that matter. The ones that make a difference. When we do that we will be able to look back as Mr. Churchill did and know that we have lived a life worth living, and “never, never, never give up.”
As we begin a new year, ask yourself,
1) Am I living proactively out of my Core Motivator? Am I courageous in my own skin?”
2) What is the big plot that I am called to engage in? What are the big battles that I’m uniquely called to fight?
Know Who You Are And Be It!
A couple of my favorite quotes from Sir Winston:
“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say: ‘This was their finest hour.’ ” Sir Winston Churchill
“You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory – victory at all cost, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; without victory, there is no survival.” Sir Winston Churchill
“Golf is an ineffectual attempt to direct an uncontrollable sphere into an inaccessible hole with instruments ill-adapted to the purpose.” Sir Winston Churchill