Gun control and the Star Spangled Banner; two topics that are commanding everyones’ attention. Unfortunately the leadership that should be guiding both is, these days, in short supply. Social media, now 2 generations raised under doting parents more concerned with making their disappointingly average kids believe they were special, and an education system that is far more adept at indoctrination than it is in teaching critical thinking skills have taken their toll on this country.
As with most problems I see in life I find parallels, and more often then not solutions, in a Gym Full of Iron. To be successful in the gym, we preach adherence to our 3 pillars of Fitness: Consistency, Intensity, and Nutrition. In order to making lasting improvements, one has to be consistent in their both attendance and their adherence to a program. Picking and choosing what one wants to do while avoiding their weaknesses leads to stagnation and zero progress. In order to stimulate muscle growth, one has to work with an appropriate level of intensity. If the load doesn’t place enough stress on the muscle fiber, the muscle fiber is not going to respond with the desired result. Nutrition is an equally important pillar of fitness. Countless hours suffering under the bar and hundreds of thousands of reps are all for naught if fuel of the right type and quantity is not being ingested.
A similar mindset can be used to by those that wish to provide leadership during tough situations. If Accountability is the foundation of leadership, Consistency, Intensity, and Nutrition can be looked at its 3 Pillars.
Consistency. A leaders message must be consistent. Intensity. A leaders actions must be intense. Nutrition. A leader must feed their brain and fuel their thought process with facts and experience.
Celebrities, and an ever increasing number of football players, are eager to share their views on today’s current political and social topics. The fact is they hold sway over public opinion. They are influencers and therefore they fancy themselves as leaders. They are able to influence not because they do anything of any real importance but rather because of how they make “normal” folks feel. The professional athletes’ feats of superhuman strength, speed, and agility give us regular guys and gals hope. Masters athletes cant help but nostalgically feel, “I could have”, while our youngsters enthusiastically ponder on which finger they will place their first Super Bowl ring. Actors and actresses are so convincing in their roles even they forget the majority of what falls from their face is not reality. Children and adults alike start to believe they actually know something about something. Acting in roles ranging from God to the President of the United States, speaking with distinguished voices and appearing with a larger than life command-presence all combine to convince us that they must be an expert on social and political-military affairs world wide. If any of them could lead as well as they recite a line or run a screen pass their message might be heard.
Recently several football players have been trying to bring attention to the interaction between unarmed black people and law enforcement. They are choosing to do this by protesting during the National anthem. Rather than observing the playing of the anthem in a traditional manner with a hand over their heart and a reflection on how lucky they are to be living in the greatest country the world has never known, they choose to kneel, sit, or conduct warm up exercises. These athletes feel that they are in a position to highlight the injustice that they perceive is happening. (Im not arguing if there is or is not an injustice taking place.) Given the gravity of their reason for protesting, that being the number of unarmed black people being shot by policemen, it would make sense that they make their protest as effective as possible. So why are the so ineffective? One reason is their lack of consistency. The irrefutable facts are, of the 174 black people killed by police thus far in 2017, 100 were armed with guns, 27 with knives, 17 with vehicles, and 6 with blunt objects (baseball bats, rocks, etc.) 6 were carrying toy weapons. 12 were unarmed. Twelve. 12 unarmed black people have been killed by a policeman. Unarmed black people are 3.3 times more likely to be struck by lightening than to be killed by law enforcement. Black people make up 63% of all murder victims in NYC; over 200 have been killed in 2017. This year over 100 blacks have been murdered in New Orleans. 414 black people have been murdered in Chicago in the first 10 months of 2017. 77.6% of all murder victims in Chicago are black and approximately 2300 have been shot year to date. Let that sink in for moment. In the city of Chicago over 2,300 black people have been shot in the last 10 months. Gun violence associated with gang activity is the leading cause of death for black youth in Chicago.
If the protesting NFL players want their message to be taken seriously then they need to show equal (and I would say much more) concern for the staggering violence that is devastating the black community in large cities across the country. While sad and unacceptable, 12 unarmed black people being killed by police is not what is causing troubles for the black community nationwide. Over 700 black people have been murdered in Chicago, New York, and New Orleans thus far, yet the same NFL players that choose to protest the killing of 12 unarmed black people remain silent about the 700 in Chicago, NYC, and New Orleans. It is far easier to attack and place blame at the feet of an outside institution than it is to reconcile with the fact the problem lays within.
The leadership failure among NLF players doesn’t stop with their lack of consistency. They fail equally when it comes to intensity. If they cared about the 12 unarmed black people that have been killed by police, their actions would show it. A leader’s actions must be commensurate with the intensity of their beliefs. What actions have NFL players taken? To protest during the single most sacred moment for our nation, the playing of the national anthem. Effective leaders understand that they can not alienate themselves from their base of support. Garnering an angry response doesn’t mean their actions were intense enough to affect a change. It only indicates they acted in a way that got regular folks angry. It is ineffective to protest something that to the overwhelming majority of the country is a symbol of the very opportunity that allows those same players to lead opulent and blessed lives. If they were truly committed to their cause, if they were leaders, they would protest by sacrificing that which was most important to them. They would take a knee at kick off. Rather than kneel during the anthem, they could kneel on the field instead of playing in the game. They wont and they never will. It is far easier to pretend they care by disguising their lack of intensity with offensive behavior. They lack the guts and conviction to kneel rather than play. They could do even more if they moved into the neighborhoods where the violence was taking place.
In similar fashion to the NFL players protesting during the National Anthem, it has become vogue for celebrities to loudly voice their opinion on gun ownership and gun control. It has reached a fevered pitch as of late due to the Nevada shooting. Addressing a captive audience, they feel an obligation to testify that guns are bad, rifles are really bad, no one needs guns, and guns are the reason innocent people are dying. I don’t object to their decision to voice their opinion. Im making the observation that they are horribly ineffective at providing leadership on the topic. Why is leadership so weak on the topic of gun control? Examine the following publicly accessible facts pulled straight from the CDC.
According to the last 5 year span of data available from the CDC (2010-2014) there are about 30,000 gun deaths each year. 65% of those deaths are suicide. That means there are about 10,500 deaths from guns that are either accidental or are a homicide. Of all gun homicides, each year about 80% are gang related. That specifically means that both the shooter and the victim were participating in gang related activity. It does not include victims that were not involved in gangs. We are left with about 2,000-2,200 murders a year from guns. Of those guns 250-300 of them are rifles. The list of deaths from things other than rifles is too long to list. I will mention but a few:
-485 people die each year falling out of bed.
-2,000 people die each each year drowning in swimming pools
-3,500 people die from year being stabbed or beaten.
-25,000 people die each year from poisoning.
The fact is that more people die each year from falling out of bed than from being shot by a rifle. People are drowned each year in swimming pools in nearly the same number as are people murdered with handguns. If you include drowning while boating then that number exceeds the number of people murdered with a hand gun. Guns, and particularly rifles, aren’t even close to being near the top of any list for cause of death in the US unless you are a gangbanger in Chicago.
Jimmy Kimmel is the current poster child of the anti-gun celebrity crowd. Immediately following the Nevada shooting he gave an impassioned speech about the gun control, specifically the need to implement further gun control measures. It was incredibly ineffective. His failure was two fold and had nothing to do with his ideology and personal feelings on gun control. His first failure was making factually false and intentionally misleading claims. It is easy to do an internet search and listen to or read his post-shooting monologues. Anyone with a modicum of gun control knowledge or weapons experience can pick apart, item by item, the falsehoods in his monologue. While the aforementioned was worth noting, it is not the most egregious of his leadership failures. His lack of consistency is most stunning. Jimmy Kimmel has armed guards that protect him. That is right, he has several private armed security guards that provide him protection while he tapes his show. As he looked into the camera with his crocodile tears weeping for stricter gun control laws, he was surrounded by men protecting him with guns. Since at least 2015 Jimmy Kimmel has used armed security. As a result of his interjecting his personal political opinions into his monologues it has been reported that he recently increased the number of security guards protecting him.
What of his actions? What has Jimmy Kimmel and the rest of the anti-gun celebrity crowd done to reduce gun violence? Jimmy Kimmel got sad, shed a few tears, and hired more armed guards. His compatriots have done far more. Matt Damon has made over $50,000,000 for acting in 3 Jason Bourne movies that glorify gun violence. Liam Neeson, another outspoken anti-gun actor has made over thirty-five million on the Taken trilogy, a 3 movie series in which he kills countless people. Alec Baldwin, Rosie O’Donnell, Shania Twain, Michael Moore, Steve Harvey, Barbara Streisand, and many more have all hired armed security guards to make them feel safe even while actively campaigning for more gun control laws if not an outright ban on gun ownership. Their actions demonstrate that some people are more equal than others, and the people that are more equal are the only ones entitled to armed defense. It is not that the message the celebrities are trying to deliver is a bad one. There are merits to gun control and it needs to be discussed. The celebrity crowd would be far more effective at providing leadership on this contentious topic if they were consistent in their message. They could stop proselytizing on gun control while being protected by men with guns. They could take actions that are on par with the claimed intensity of their believes. They could move into areas that are rife with crime. They could come out from behind their gated communities, fire their security details, and live among the very people whom they say should not be allowed to have guns.
If the NFL players and celebrities would be consistent in their message, intense with their actions, and study facts instead of inflammatory claims, they would garner far more support. The NFL’s continued decline in both ticket sales and TV viewership is telling. Hollywood’s awards shows continue to drop in the ratings. Movie attendance continues to decline. There is a greater than ever disconnect between the majority of Americans and celebrities and professional athletes.
Fortunately for them, we can help. This stands as an open invitation to any celebrity and any professional football player that would like to improve their ability to lead. Come on in. Join the Athletes Unleashed family. Contact Leadership Unleashed for some executive coaching and leadership development. Learn what intensity and consistency are all about. The bar will never lie to you. The clock is relentless. The weights are unforgiving. The coaches will hold you to a standard. You will have no choice but to learn to LEAD FROM THE FRONT.
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