I recently saw Captain Phillips at my apartment, which was played by none other than Tom Hanks, the actor that can seemingly do no wrong in the public eye. He portrays the captain in an obviously positive and courageous light.
He was a true epitome of what a leader should do in times of distress. How Captain Phillips looked out for his crew members. How he used cunning and guile to mislead the Somali pirates. And how he put others ahead of self as a captain’s duty.
I really enjoyed the movie. It caught my attention from start to finish and everything was well-portrayed and well-acted. And I learned a lot about the importance of a steady hand and what it entails to be a good leader in life.
At the same time, I also read later on that in real life, some of his crew members actually disapproved of Captain Phillips and claimed that he did not necessarily lead in the foolproof way that was depicted in the movie. Some crew claimed that he made many significant mistakes that led up to the pirates being able to take over his ship in the first place. And that shouldn’t be discounted.
In general, these movies do like to paint a rosy picture of the hero. How he or she is an unmistakable leader. Calm, cool, and collected. Can seemingly do no wrong in the face of mortal danger. And all that’s fine and dandy. But we need to realize that at the end of the day, the movies do not equate to real life. No matter how much we want them to sometimes.
And even though I give a lot of credit to Captain Phillips for eventually coming out of the entire situation unscathed (after all, there were actually no crew member deaths from the pirate attack), I think it’s kind of unfair for us to lionize him into some sort of superhero. Like he can do no wrong. Like we should pretty much follow his everyday words of wisdom like they are in the scripture.
Even though what Captain Phillips did was indeed admirable, and I still believe that he was a great leader in the face of significant risk, fear, and danger, at the same time he is not a perfect human being. Nobody is. I’m sure he has his warts. And perhaps he did indeed put his crew members in danger of being attacked by pirates in the first place. Who really knows the truth these days.
So, again, I really enjoyed the movie, but I will learn to take everything that is depicted with a grain of salt. And I’ll try to see Captain Phillips as simply another human being that did a great deed but is also flawed in many other ways as well.
Sometimes, in society, we tend to paint our heroes as an unflappable unstoppable force of nature. Like how Kobe Bryant was a true winner. Or how Elon Musk has wealth beyond our imagination. But at the end of the day, even those people are simply human beings. Kobe had his own well-publicized relationship issues from over a decade ago. And Elon is not the perfect businessman that can do no wrong, as evidenced by his snafu of a decision to purchase Twitter for $44 billion dollars!
So yes, these all-time greats in their respective crafts can indeed be lionized by us mere mortals. They can be respected and admired. And we can certainly learn from them and follow some of their daily habits on how to succeed and thrive. But at the end of the day, no one human being is flawless. And everyone marches to the beat of their own drum.
What works for me might not work for you. What works now might not even work later on down the road in one week’s time. So it’s important, I feel, to take things with a grain of salt. And sometimes, it’s okay to take these famous people down a notch and not simply worship them or put them on a pedestal.
Yes, what they have done for society should be respected and admired. And yes, it’s okay to see them as role models given their success and major platforms. And yes, you can admire or follow anyone you want in life, as long as you believe in their cause or pursuits.
But, at the same time, just realize that nobody ever has a perfect life. No one lives a life of constant joy and peace and satisfaction. There will be bumps and bruises for everyone. Financial issues. Relationship issues. Health issues. Career issues. The list can go on and on and it can be rather tiresome to think about all of this. But it’s just good to know that even the best of the best is not immune to mistakes.
They are not 100% correct on every single decision that they make. And who is to decide that they are correct or not in the first place? Kobe did not make every basketball shot that he took. Elon has had his share of business miscues. And it’s important to note that people are people. And they will make mistakes and unintentionally mislead sometimes.
So, just keep these things in mind. Your heroes are flawed. Because this life is beautifully flawed. And that should be appreciated.