Gunga Din's Lessons on Leadership


My most favorite movie since I was a child has always been Gunga Din. It was made in 1939 and starred such classic actors as Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Sam Jaffe as Gunga Din. I used to get up in the middle of the night with my Dad to watch it. It was before the age of VCR, DVR, TIVO and Netflix. (My younger sister, Amy, even believed that "back in the day" real life was "in black and white"). Gunga Din certainly was. 1939 was a great year for movies and included flicks such as Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. But, Gunga Din was always my favorite. Probably the biggest reason was that I got to watch it with my Dad and it was always on in the middle of the night so that was a big deal. To top it off, we each had pith helmets that we wore when the movie was on. We would stand and do a snappy, crisp British salute and then sit down to watch the movie together.

Gunga Din was based on a poem of the same name by Rudyard Kippling. The story is about an outcast that wants more than anything to be a soldier in the British Army. However, he is rejected and cast aside. He is the lowest of the lowest. He is the water boy for the troops. I don't want to spoil the movie for you but, in the end, he ends up being the ultimate hero. The story has a powerful leadership message. The people that we choose not to see are of value and may end up being the very people that save us.

Some of the greatest leaders understood this very well. At a young age, one of the most important leadership lessons that I learned was to reach out to people that are different than I am. It has been a valuable lesson indeed. Just in case you have never heard the poem, here it is:

These days, you don't have to get up in the middle of the night to see it; you can find it on Netflix by clicking HERE.