Yes, I admit it, I read the Hunger Games. Actually the entire trilogy, and yes I enjoyed it. There seems to be an entire “over 40 male” Hunger Games support network…the first step is admitting you read the books, then one has to admit that we cannot wait to see the movie. Yep, that is where we are today…after having viewed the online trailer countless times over the last 3 months, we finally get to see it all on the big screen. We are a sorry lot!
What has stayed with me the last 5 months has been the example Katniss sets for all leaders. Interesting really, a teenage girl becomes a beacon of hope to an entire country just by being herself. It is a great reminder that leadership is at its core, about doing the right things for the right reasons for the right people. Of course the question is “how is right defined”, for in the world of the Hunger Games, the status quo “right” is not what our hero does or whom she helps. She actually does the exact opposite of the accepted right from the very opening pages, and in so doing she defines leadership.
Katniss is no leader, at least not in the formal sense. She is a teenage daughter who does what it takes to quite literally feed her mother and young sister. She is a loner who is loyal only to her most trusted friend. She is focused on survival and has no time for the extraneous noise of the world around her. And when the time comes that a hard, life changing decision must be made, Katniss does the unthinkable and volunteers – immediately. She steps forward to do what everyone would know in their heart is right, and in so doing certainly goes willingly to her own death. And from that moment forward she evolves into a leader by continuing to act for others. Certainly she protects herself, but never just for herself nor at the expense of others…who matter.
The story evolves, and along the way Katniss does many a thing, but never does she forget those who help her. She goes to great lengths to protect others, and in so doing she earns the respect and support of the masses. It is a complicated and intense journey, yet she remains true to herself and firmly grounded in reality. She is decisive, focused, hard working, committed and grounded. She sees things as they are, not as they are packaged or intended.
Obviously the journey of Katniss is not limited to just one book or film, and there will be many more lessons learned along the way. However there is no denying she sets the standard early and often. It was an interesting revelation when I read the trilogy this fall. Like everyone, I could not put the book, or rather Kindle, down. Yes it was entertaining, yes it was a look in the mirror for our entire society, but for me it was a reminder that leaders are everywhere. Leadership is often not a formal, titled, positioned role. Rather it is a state of mind, a type of behaviour, an example that is set just by doing the right things at the right time.
And for those who have not been caught-up in the Hunger Games universe, give the below a whirl…email for support group meeting details!