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I need ammunition, not a ride.
How the quote of a purpose driven leader connects to you.
As I prepare the next post about my book, I have to take a pause to recognize one of the most profound statements a fellow Gen-X’er made this weekend. Faced with what was unimaginable just a few weeks ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has found himself in a position to rally his fellow countrymen and leadership to overcome the intrusion of Russia’s superior military. As spectators from afar, we have marveled at his courage to stay in Kyiv alongside all of those that stayed to fight or were unable to evacuate all while understanding that he, himself, is the primary target.
When the United States offered support and service to have him safely evacuated from the war zone, Zelenskyy stated, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” These 6 simple words was all it took for those that he is leading, as well as those that he is leading against, to understand that this is not about the easy way out. It’s about the right way out.
I am moved by this because one of my life mentors taught me an early but valuable life lesson that I have always kept top of mind when faced with a difficult decision. “You can change what you face, or you can change the way you face it.” As I have constantly used this mental position as the starting point of decision making, I have learned that there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong response here. But without a doubt, “changing the way you face it” harbors strength, fight, determination, persistence, courage, and most important: reflection of purpose.
Changing what we face is a necessary option for certain circumstances where one has evaluated all potential paths and see a total change as the only solution. On the plus side, it leaves a finite and determined outcome. But, that can also be viewed as the negative outcome. We may choose to change what we face because we do not possess the will to fight on and accomplish what needs to be overcome.
A safe passage out for Zelenskyy was his “change what he faced” option. There were some positives as possible outcomes with that move. It would allow him to have access to communication and to safely reach out to the enemy to negotiate. Perhaps he could see the situation from afar to react and plan. Instead, he “changed the way he faced it.” He removed the rightful protections of a country’s leader that cloaked his position and chose instead to stand side-by-side with the citizens of Ukraine. Whether an intentional calculation or not, his decision and profound statement boosted the most powerful weapon Ukrainians have over the Russian troops: Morale. He is being driven by his true purpose. As we will explore with this book, the reason it is so important to establish your purpose is because making decisions based on what’s best for that purpose magnifies and displays our emotional intelligence.
We can reflect on the quote and ask ourselves where we need to duplicate the message in our own lives where we aren’t looking for a ride, we just want the ammunition to continue onward.
By the way… the life mentor that gave me the gift of this quote during a time of conflict in my life is TJ Kostecky. He was my soccer coach during my senior season at Appalachian State University. For 25+ years, his wisdom and life perspective has impacted thousands of young soccer players around the world. And after witnessing the bravery and spirit of a country under siege, I must conclude that there is something in the water in Ukraine. See, TJ Kostecky is Ukrainian. He is the son of Ukrainian immigrants who made US home. So fitting.
We will be back to another story that will be a part of the book later this week. Until then, let your personal approach to your week be one of seeking ammunition and not a ride! Purpose is achieved with Faith, Unconditionality, Leadership and Legacy.