Four years ago, I saw 12 Angry Men during a negotiations class in which I was a complete greenhorn without much of a business mindset. The last time I saw this film, a few days ago, I was challenged to write a paper identifying the techniques the leading character used to build community in an emotionally charged context compounded with a diverse set of worldviews and motivations. Dramatically I knew Henry Fonda's character did this with aplomb but my doubting voice said I would not be able to identify the transferable actions with any certainty. So did my paper turn into a watered-down version only a diploma-purchaser could be proud of?
Hardly. But I did gain some experience handling a new perspective. I learned to set aside my need for entertainment (and get caught up in the drama) to observe the facts for specific solutions. I find this to be one of my greatest challenges, yet one that reaps the most for those whom I serve. Why? Because it means I have listened to them and put their needs above my own. Philosophically this is easy to do, but living up to these high standards is quite difficult.
I do confess I received my worst grade on this paper for this class. Was it that big of a challenge? For me, yes. However becoming aware of an issue is, in my opinion, as much of a blessing as a friend or trusted colleague telling me I have something green stuck between my teeth. I would rather be challenged watching a movie and writing a paper than fail to make a situation right in my life when it is most needed.