The reason I started blogging was to teach leadership and try to add value to you, my readers. But in today’s post I need to tell you something of a more personal nature.
I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life. Early in my marriage I would win arguments with my wife, Margaret, and hurt her feelings really badly. I have made business moves that lost tens of thousands of dollars at a time. And I’ve made leadership decisions that led to failures for my organizations. But up until now, none of the dumb things I’ve done has gotten me arrested.
Here’s how this came about. Last Sunday, I was in Birmingham, Alabama, speaking for the Church of the Highlands. It’s a wonderful church with a marvelous leader named Chris Hodges. He is a good friend, the congregation is fantastic, and I had a terrific time.
Most of the time when I have speaking engagements, I fly commercially, especially when the commitments are far from home. But when the engagement is not very far away and it means that I will be able to sleep at home in my own bed, I’ll sometimes fly on a private airplane. That was the case on Sunday.
As I got on the plane, someone from Chris’ congregation gave me a gift: a handgun. “This is for Margaret,” he said, “so she can feel safe when you’re traveling.”
Now, I’m not really a gun person. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people who own guns. I have been hunting a few times with friends, so I’ve shot a gun before, but I’ve never bought one. It’s just not my cup of tea. But I knew this was being given as a gift from the heart, so I accepted it, put it in my carry-on, and got on the private plane and flew home.
And then I forgot about it.
For the next several days, I was focused on preparations for an upcoming speaking engagement in Dallas. There was a moment when I thought to myself, “Oh, I’d better remember to get that gun out of my bag,” but because I was in the middle of writing, I didn’t want to stop. By the time yesterday rolled around, it had completely left my mind.
If you’re my age, you may remember a cartoon character called “Mr. Magoo.” He was a man who seemed to wander from danger to danger without ever getting hurt.
My friends used to call me Mr. Magoo. For those of you a little younger, they have also called me Forrest Gump.
Well, off I went to the airport in full Mr. Magoo mode. In security, I put my carry-on bag on the conveyer belt and didn’t think anything of it. Truly, it’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done.
You can probably guess the rest. I was arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail, where I was fingerprinted and photographed. Needless to say, it opened my eyes to a world I’d seen only in the movies. I was glad when I posted bail and was able to leave.
I said this post would be of a personal nature, but there is still a leadership lesson to be learned from it. First, take responsibility for your own actions. What I did was wrong, and it was my fault. I certainly didn’t intend to break the law, but I will face up to the consequences.
The second lesson, to use the words of my friend Kevin Myers, is this: “Stupid hurts.” If you’re not paying attention and you do something stupid, it’s going to hurt you.
In the end, I just hope my mistake isn’t going to hurt anybody but me.
Comments are closed on this post.