OK, you might not be a tough guy (or girl), but you do need to know how to challenge people. In my organization, GiANT Worldwide, we make a habit of moving ourselves and others toward high “support and challenge”. The loving and liberating thing to do with people under our influence is to fight for their highest possible good. Sometimes that means we’re not initially welcomed with open arms. We’re like Matt Dillon.
Liberators Face Obstacles
Two incidents this week reminded me that liberators often have an uphill battle. The first was of an acquaintance who sees a character flaw in one of her children–a habit that needs correcting. She’s taken a couple of runs at the wall this week, but she’s not quite through. It’s unnatural for her to challenge to the degree that she is doing, but she’s pushing beyond “natural” to becoming liberating. Her child will thank her for it one day.
The second incident was during a coaching appointment with someone who is attempting to bring a new culture into his organization. The organization has slipped into non-productivity and he’s not afraid to bring challenge to turn it around. But he knows he’ll face the pushback of inertia that’s normal when organizations have been stuck in neutral. This leader is someone I admire. He’s extremely competent and confident, and I have every expectation that this thing will turn around.
What we Can Learn Marshall Matt Dillon
As we talked about it, we laughed as we reminded ourselves of the old western radio (and, later, television) show, Gunsmoke, which featured Marshall Matt Dillon. It was Marshall Dillon’s responsibility to fight back evil and passivity, to liberate Dodge City, Kansas. At the beginning of most radio episodes, the announcer would describe the show as “…the story of the violence that moved west with young America, and the story of a man who moved with it.” Matt (played by William Conrad from 1952-1961) would take over, saying, “I’m that man, Matt Dillon, United States Marshal — the first man they look for and the last they want to meet. It’s a chancy job, and it makes a man watchful . . . and a little lonely.”
Sometimes that’s the price of being a liberator, but somebody’s gotta do it. Go ahead and put on that badge, Marshall.
Oh, for a nostalgic trip back, listen to the first minute of this clip.
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