Captain Richard Phillips speaks with a quick, high pitched New England vibrato, the type of vocal cadence where you nearly miss every fifth or eighth word being said but the message still gets across. When Captain Phillips speaks the message is clear, he is a man who is confident in his ability to lead others in the realm of danger on the high seas.
By now most Americans, if not most everyone else on the planet familiar with a Tom Hanks film, have heard of Captain Phillips. He helped successfully manage the safety of his crew, his ship and his cargo during a Somali pirate hijacking in the spring of 2009. Hollywood liberties with fact aside (note: I haven’t yet seen the movie, but understand from the Captain himself that “Pretty much everything in the movie happened, just not necessarily the same way or same time.”), Captain Phillips’ handling of the situation was heroic.
Sandra and I got a chance to see the man at a Leadership lecture held at a local university where Captain Phillips was the guest speaker. For me, I was interested in hearing him speak because I hadn’t seen the movie. For Sandra, she was excited because she had seen the movie. What I took away from the night was more inspiration, thoughts and ideas about leadership development, a topic I’ve specialized in during my career in business management.
If you get a chance to hear him speak, I highly recommend it. His delivery on the events is exciting, scary and insightful. He is funny and honest, and though the Massachusett’s scat is a little difficult at times to navigate, his lecture is better than a two hour Tinseltown thriller. For me, anyway.
Here are some of my favorite takeaways;
“We can’t solve new problems with old solutions.”
This is a great quote that for me reinforces the idea that if you keep doing the same things and expecting different results you’re insane. Just like Einstein said you were.
“Successful leaders are flexible.”
This was one of my favorites! Captain Phillips reinforced this by saying “It’s good to have a plan. The plan is the foundation. But when things don’t go as planned, it’s important to be flexible.”
“You are stronger than you think you are.”
Another one of my favorites. For me, it helps reinforce the idea that beginning something new, even a new action in a stressful situation, is the most difficult step. But it’s also the most important.
“Vow to never give up, never quit, and sooner or later your situation will get better.”
This was the foundation of Captain Phillips’ lecture, and for me the most inspirational quote.