ad·a·man·tine – Unable to be broken

Last night was Father Son movie night in my home. I usually choose a movie I have already seen and that has an interesting life lesson associated with it. I like to discuss the movie after it is over to see what my son has observed about it. The movie I selected was Men of Honor. In brief it is inspired by the life story of Master petty officer Carl Brashear, the first African American master diver in the U.S. Navy back in 1948. The story reveals the many hardships and struggles Brashear overcame in reaching his goal most notably overcoming a very sociopathic Master Chief Petty Officer named Billy Sunday played by Robert De Niro. Sunday was a former Master Diver who due to character and integrity issues was demoted in rank and put in charge of the Naval Diver’s School. Due to his own failings and prejudices he was dead set in seeing Brashear fail in his efforts. At the outset most of Brashear’s classmates shared in Sunday’s goal of seeing Brashear fail because of who he was not for his capabilities. They wanted to see and treat Brashear as inferior not because he truly was but to justify their own fears and prejudices toward him.

The following are some of the adamantine qualities my son and I noticed about Brashear that I am highlighting for the purpose of reflection.

Purposeful – Brashear had a clear goal from the outset and it never changed. All of his thoughts and actions throughout the film reflected this purpose. He never lost focus.

Passionate – Brashear discovered his “inner fire” for his purpose at an early age and it was created through living through the struggles of his own father’s life and the promise he made to him before leaving home and joining the Navy.

Risk taking – Brashear took a big gamble in breaking the prejudicial social norms on his ship in order to demonstrate his talents to the leadership and to his shipmates. This paid off and got him reassigned from being a cook to having swimmer responsibilities.

Persevering – Brashear faced severe discrimination and abuse throughout his time in diving school with all kinds of discouragement from the bully Sunday as well as his cowardly classmates who observed indifferently and / or participated directly in the abuse. He was told to quit daily but he never wavered.

Forgiving – Brashear selflessly assisted his classmates whenever he could even saving one’s life during training who quickly forgot because well that is what sociopaths do. Sunday himself was over time moved positively by Brashear’s adamantine spirit to the point his own inner demons could no longer allow him to stand in Brashear’s way. Brashear had won his enemy over in the end in the most honorable of ways.

Relentless – After reaching his goal of becoming a Master Diver Brashear incurred a catastrophic injury and was told he would never run let alone dive again. He set himself in rediscovering his purpose and this time with help of his Chief antagonist Sunday again reached his goal and was reinstated as a Master Diver in the Navy.

So what is your Adamantine story? Maybe you have one and never realized it or you are in the middle of one right now. Maybe you see someone else going through one (please don’t be one of Brashear’s cowards – make a difference for justice sake!) Make sure you embrace the antagonists and cowards who try to discourage you along the way, they will help you build the strength you need for the rest of your journey. Good luck and see the movie if you have not already.

By: James Babb, Partner, Clients and Industries, Deloitte, Middle East

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