Zero Dark Thirty

Yesterday, I saw the movie Zero Dark Thirty which portrays the search for and killing of Osama Bin Laden, or as the protagonist CIA agent character referenced him in the movie, UBL. Actor Jessica Chastain plays the character of the real-life CIA agent who, as it appears in the film, followed up on a lead she would not let go of — whether through superior intelligence or intuition/hunch or a combination of science and art (the film suggests all three). She did much gritty, tedious, dedicated work to arrive at her convictions, and then, persistently pursued the next logical action. True or not, I love the scenes where the character writes a number in white-board marker on her boss’s window every day — the number of days no follow-up action had been taken after her finding of UBL’s location. 21, 48, 80, 100 days and on; she writes the number every day, pushing him to take the case to the decision-makers.

Hard, dedicated work. Sound convictions. Persistence. It’s certainly not a new formula, but one of which we need to remind ourselves. Chastain’s character spent ten years following and tracking one good lead, which she found after relentlessly reviewing interrogation tapes. It would be easy to say that she had a noble and grand purpose, that she had much more important work than we. But then we would be selling both short. Protection of life from harm is so that life may go on in its every-day-ness, its teaching and dusting and road-building and nursing and marketing, . . . and, and, and . . . Honest work in and of itself is good and noble. Don’t sell yourself — or those who work so hard to protect us and our work — short.

Are you doing honest work? Work hard. Find your convictions. Persist to their logical outcomes.

One thought on “Zero Dark Thirty

  1. Michelle Rickard says:

    Am I doing honest work? A great question that I can more happily answer “yes” today. Sometimes it is not the persistance to keep after the answer but to take a step off of the cliff of change. Jerald Jellison, in his book “Managing the Dynamics of Change”, discusses the J Curve process of change. I found this book very helpful in understanding my own procrastination. I found it somehow comforting to know that the anxiety is a part of the process and that there is a process to get to the change you are trying to accomplish. And it reminded me that I actually use the process quite well in my life but never take the time to look back and see how far I have come up from the “cliff”.
    Michelle Rickard
    Academic Medicine Educator
    (and longtime friend of Andrea)


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