I recently saw Bridge of Spies, a Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks movie ‘inspired by true events’ involving James Donovan. Donovan (Hanks) was an ordinary insurance lawyer in Brooklyn who ended up negotiating with the Soviet Union for the exchange of a captured US pilot for a KGB spy.
It is a great story with all the drama and intrigue you would expect from a Cold War spy swap. But the real message was about how one ordinary person could do extraordinary things if he has the courage to follow his values.
Donovan was a master negotiator who used diplomacy and level-headedness to not only orchestrate the exchange of the two prisoners, but he insisted on the release of a captured US student as well. Mission accomplished.
Later he was deployed by the Kennedy administration to negotiate for the release of a few prisoners from Cuba after the Bay of Pigs invasion. He was responsible for the freedom of 1,113 prisoners instead.
Think about the tasks you take on in your life. Are you only accepting the easy or popular jobs? Are you doing just what was asked or producing far greater results? Do you stand for your principles, even if it takes you across the ocean on a dangerous mission?
The Bridge of Spies offers lessons to all of us on how to be brave. Remember, heroes don’t need to wear capes.