Posted by: Don Linnen | 31 March 2013

Learning Leadership in Prison

Prison is usually not the place to learn lessons that serve you well in the free world. But if the prison is a “hotel” named the Hanoi Hilton and the student is tough, smart, and grounded, the lessons can be invaluable.

Air Force Captain Lee Ellis was one such student. Shot down in 1967, he was a “guest” of the North Vietnamese for over five years.

He was tough – mentally and physically. You don’t survive the prisoner-of-war crucible without that toughness combo.

He was smart. Every day in confinement was an opportunity for him to learn, grow, and “lean into the pain.” He translated those lessons into a book for the rest of us.

He was grounded, literally by enemy fire and figuratively by an unshakeable belief in his team of captive brothers, his family at home, and his Maker.

Know yourself, stay positive, face the dragons, rebound, treasure your trials, and celebrate your successes are just a few of his 14 leadership lessons. The stories he tells of his captivity and the principles he defines are fascinating and invaluable. The call for “authentic” leaders – in public and private sectors, in our churches, and at home – has never been greater.

Leading with Honor.  Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Buy the book. It’s now the best in my extensive leadership library.

Study it. Apply the lessons. We need more real leaders.

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