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Lessons Learned: Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger

Growing up, I didn't have a positive male role model in my home.  I relied on movies and books to seek out and identify male role models that inspired me and that I could positively emulate.  When I was very young I received a stack of comic books for a Christmas gift.  In this stack was a smorgasbord of artistry, creative writing, and inspiration.  Thor, GI Joe, X-men, The Hulk, The Amazing Spider-Man...Captain America.   All of these characters and stories made me feel like impossible things were possible but there are few characters that have inspired me the way Steve Rogers has.  I learned a lot about grit, valor, integrity, intelligence, and sacrifice.  During this three-part series I will discuss the leadership lessons learned specifically from the film adaptations of his saga (with a little comic-book nerd thrown in).  I hope you enjoy this series!

Captain America: The First Avenger

Steve Rogers, a scrawny kid from Brooklyn, has a strong desire to serve his country.  However, he isn't particularly strong in a physical sense.  In fact, he is very physically weak and has a myriad of health challenges that hinder his efforts.  But what he lacks in physical capability he makes up for with a strong desire to serve.

At the start, we find Steve trying desperately to enlist in the military during the WWII era.  He doesn't particularly want to hurt anyone, he simply "doesn't like bullies" and wants to do his part to contribute to an honorable victory in the war effort.  He makes numerous attempts and is repeatedly denied.  He even resorts to falsifying his documents in hopes that the recruiters won't notice and send him through.  This is not the most ethical thing to do, and even unlawful, but his focus is on the bigger picture and if he needs to bend the rules for the greater good, he will.

Witnessing his continued efforts displays the first lesson learned: Resiliency.  Rogers is denied again and again and that can take a toll on a person.  There is a scene where is being pummeled in the back alley of a movie theater because he called out some loudmouth who was being disrespectful inside.  He takes hit after hit but keeps getting up.  "I could do this all day!" he says.  His strong desire and passion for what he believes in kept him focused and strong in heart.  Personally, I tested with multiple fire departments numerous times before getting the call.  It was a gauntlet to go through the testing process.  The ability to give it your all and be rejected, get back up, and start all over again is what matters.

Steve Rogers had Passion and his passion kept him going.  He was passionate about serving his country and serving others.  It's truly an inspiring thing to see a person with such passion!  I've seen people that have been in the fire service for 10 months to 10 years and you can definitely tell who has lost their passion and who hasn't.  It's those who keep their passion and think about how they can contribute to their organization that inspire other people to keep theirs.  Those people making statements like, "I believe in this program, but I'm not willing to support it on my days off." show others that they have lost their passion and drain those around them.  Keep your passion!  Don't let those around you pull you down like crabs in a bucket (when collecting crabs, you never have to put a lid on the bucket because as one tries to escape, all the other crabs pull it back down).

After Rogers' resiliency catches the eye of Dr. Erskine (a man who can and will change his life forever), his greatest desire is realized and Steve is offered a chance at what he desires most.  But Rogers still needs to prove himself.  He is put through boot camp and numerous tests are placed before him.  In an effort to rule Rogers out as a candidate for a new experimental program, Colonel Phillips (Played by Tommy Lee Jones) takes a dramatic route to undermine Rogers and expose a perceived weakness.  He says, "You don't win wars with niceness, you win wars with guts." and throws a "dummy" grenade into the middle of the training group.  While all of the other candidates yell "Grenade! Take cover!" and dive out of the blast radius, Rogers immediately launches his body onto the threat and yells for everyone to "get back!", covering the grenade with his body, expecting to take the blast and save those around him.

This brings me to a second lesson learned: Sacrifice.  Without hesitation, contradicting what his superiors thought of him (based off their erroneous judgement), Steve proves that he is not only a top candidate, but that he is the obvious choice.  Dr. Erskine said, "A strong man, who has known power his whole life may lose respect for that power.  But a weak man knows the value of strength and knows compassion."  Rogers is constantly focused on the bigger picture and doing what's right for the sake of what's right no matter what people say or think.  He is willing to give his life to support this ideal.  One thing I appreciated most about his constant displays of sacrifice is how (A) he's not concerned with what others will think and (B) he lets his actions speak for him.  In a world where everyone is so concerned with what people think of them, nothing tends to get done because people get stuck in a negative feedback loop.  Stay focused on the results!  Let your actions be the testament as to who you are and don't put too much faith in what people tell you.  Instead, focus on what people show you.  Talk is cheap, have expensive taste.

Captain America is a symbol of hope, strength, and doing what's right.  Even though he is a fictional character, the ideals he stands for are very real.  I hope you've found this post entertaining and maybe even inspiring.

Keep an eye out for the other "Lessons Learned" series entries!  I hope you enjoy them and get something out of them.

As always, please share and comment below and let me hear some things you may have noticed while watching this film.  I'm always interested in seeing someone else's perspective!  Stay IGNITEd and be hard to kill out there!

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