David Dunn on Accountability

Not everyone in a leadership position dreamed of taking the helm. David Dunn was one such person. In the movie Unbreakable, David was thrust into a position of responsibility after being the lone survivor of a massive subway crash.

For most of his life, David had denied having superpowers – strength, resilience to injury, the ability to instinctively know whether someone was good or evil. His denial may have continued indefinitely, but David was confronted with a sadistic criminal who was hurting an innocent family. It was at this moment that David felt compelled to take action. It was at this moment that he became a hero.

David still wanted to live an ordinary life but he realized that he could no longer pretend to be like everyone else. Many leaders go through a similar experience. Some who did not willingly and/or consciously make the decision to lead were chosen because they had a reputation as being capable and trustworthy. Others were coerced because the situation demanded that someone take charge.

In the book The Art of Achievement Tom Morris wrote:

The best adventures in life need to be chosen, not from a predetermined menu based on what we’ve done already, but rather out of our deepest sense of who we are and how we can contribute to the world.

Regardless of how you’ve become the leader, once you’re in the job, success will be tied to your ability to affirm your role. This acknowledgment cannot be based on past accomplishments, but rather on your potential as a leader and your drive to use these skills to make a difference. This declaration takes a healthy ego, which is not to be confused with hubris. A healthy ego says, “I can do this,” whereas hubris is centered around feeling superior to others or entitled to the role.

If you don’t believe in your abilities, if you’re denying them the way David Dunn denied his superpowers, no one else will believe in you either. People need to feel like you have the confidence to lead. All the skills and abilities in the world don’t matter if the leader is wishy-washy and apprehensive.

If you’re still accepting the fact that you are a leader, ask yourself why you are the right person to lead the team. Why do other people look to you for guidance? Not sure why? Ask. There’s nothing wrong with digging into the skills you possess. It’s a great way to improve and grow.

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