My Grandfather’s Rifle

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My journey to develop a leadership style started on a sunny afternoon in 1982, when I saw my grandfather’s rifle for the first time. My father came home that day with the rifle which was almost three feet long. As a child I was very curious what it was and how it worked. It also surprised me that the bullets were almost two inches long. My only experience of seeing a bullet was from watching TV shows like the Hawaii five-0, the Six Million Dollar Man or the Wonder Woman where bullets created a tiny hole once it was shot. I had many questions on my mind, what sort of a bullet was it and why a gun was in our home.

My father smiled and explained to me and my siblings, that it was a gift from the British Government to my late grandfather Md. Harun. He received it as a recognition of his service as he caught a notorious robber, whom none was able to get hold of. My grandfather worked as superintendent of police when Bangladesh was part of undivided India, which was under British colony. My grandfather’s name was engraved on the rifle which over the years has now faded. I remember the pride and joy in my father’s voice as he explained.

My journey on the ship of leadership started there. We never shot the rifle once since it came to our house. The rifle stood in the almirah as an epitome of pride and joy for the family. I knew I was the descendent of a highly respected and honest man. People from our village still respect him for the contribution he left for his fellow village men. After more than thirty years I saw the same amazement, pride and joy in the eyes of my two young nephews when my father showed them the rifle for the first time.

My parents taught us to be honest, to have empathy for people and never to be obnoxious. I strongly believe that leadership is all about influencing people and for that, honesty is vital. I grew up watching my father when he cleaned the rifle and award for honesty and dedication also observed my parents practicing the same in their lives.

There is an adage in Bangladesh, which means, keep doing your job and not to worry for results. I found similarity to what Maxwell (2005) mentioned, “The key to personal development is being more growth oriented than goal oriented.”

I believe that in all culture and community wisdom and teaching of leadership is somewhat similar. Only the representation may vary from one culture to another.

Wahida Ifat

3 Comments on “My Grandfather’s Rifle”

  1. Wonderful story. I enjoyed how it was not the physical rifle that was important, but rather what it represented. It is a symbol of goodwill and leadership, two things that are not necessarily attributed to a firearm.

  2. What a great story Wahida. My family taught me similar lessons on honesty, empathy and pride in what you do. I guess it goes to show, it doesn’t really matter what side of the world you grow up on 🙂

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