Two Dozen Basic Management Principles (Pt. 11)

The third New York snapshot involved 9-11. One day in September, the mood in the hallway felt different to Lopez. Something odd seemed to be going on but he had no idea what. He overheard a few people talking about a plane crash but Lopez did not stop to ask questions.

In the middle of second period, the bell rang. Everyone jumped, startled. It rang again, stopped, then rang again and again and again. Everyone had the same confused look as Lopez.

The principal came over the intercom. “All students proceed as quickly as possible to the auditorium. Leave your books in the room and leave now.”

His teacher led them to the auditorium. A group of girls walked by, all of them crying. Lopez glanced around. Even some guys were crying. Someone mentioned the words attack and war. Lopez thought: “Why would anyone in America use such words?”  Fear filled the hallway. The looks on the faces reminded Lopez of his days long ago of running into caves with his family when the Sudanese jets flew over his village. Lopez had no idea of what was going on.

The students filed into the auditorium and sat down. Televisions had been placed on the stage where everyone could see them. All the talk died down. Everyone stared at the televisions. Lopez remembered seeing New York when his plane circled the city to land at JFK. This New York looked nothing like that city. People on the streets ran in fear. A few stopped and looked up. Most cried hysterically. Up above them all, smoke poured out of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The television announcers explained that the buildings had been attacked by terrorists. Lopez thought: “How could war follow me here?”

The principal kept them in the auditorium until one of the towers collapsed. Then they dismissed the students and told them to go home. No one was home when Lopez got off the bus. He called Barb and asked her what he should do. “Stay inside,” she said. “Dad and I will be there soon.”

Lopez turned on the television and watched the news coverage until the second building collapsed. Smoke and dust covered New York City. Lopez was scared. This looked worse than anything he’d heard about in Sudan. He turned off the TV.

Rob and Barb arrived a short time later. Both were visibly shaken. Lopez had experienced war. Watching the start of another did not appeal to him.

Over the next few days he discovered how different America was from Sudan. Back home, he had to run and hide. Sudan didn’t have a way to stand up and fight. Then Lopez saw President Bush on television, standing in the midst of the carnage in New York, a bullhorn in his hand. Lopez could hardly understand anything he said, but the image of him standing there was the most powerful thing Lopez had ever seen. President Bush inspired Lopez more than words can describe. Watching him there, Lopez knew he was safe.

The next day, Lopez went to school and bought a T-shirt with the words, “United We Stand.” with an American flag in the background. Lopez wore the shirt the rest of the week. This was another change for him. He realized the American people love their country and were proud of it. He had never been proud to live in Sudan. He never knew it was possible to be proud of a country. Now he was. He would not become a citizen of the United States until 2007, but after September 11th, he was an American!

Management Lesson #14 – Become Part of a Team

It is critical to be a part of a team. Attempting to be the one and only or attempting to do all of the work yourself is simply impossible. Be intellectually honest. Recognize that you do not have all of the answers. Listen to the criticism and suggestions of others. Become part of a team!

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