Most television shows don’t interest me. I usually figure out the ending long before the writers and actors reveal it. “24” was a rare exception. The brilliant writers kept me guessing (usually wrong) every week and gave me a stunning conclusion each season. Here are five lessons I learned from watching Jack Bauer.
Have Trustworthy Friends
Season after season, Jack turns to Chloe. She is his most trusted colleague and friend. It also helps that she is a computer genius, able to do things nobody else can without being detected. She does not hesitate to talk back to Jack–something he needs! It is her competence and dependability that make her Jack’s “go to” person.
Like Jack, I appreciate friends who give me straight answers. I know who will be there when I am in a jam and who has the skills to help me through a crisis. I also want to be that friend for somebody else.
Demand the Best from Yourself and Others
During the 24 hours of each season, Jack has no margin for error. He trusts his training, his instincts, and his colleagues at CTU (Counter-Terrorism Unit.) Jack can be very demanding–just ask Chloe! However, he never asks more of his team than he is willing to ask of himself. Jack usually takes the point position in an operation, putting himself at the greatest risk and leading by his example.
I have noticed that people will generally rise to meet the expectations of their leaders. People will respond to a good example.
Put First Things First
One season featured terrorists releasing nerve gas into public places. Jack desperately tried to disarm a canister at a shopping mall, but gas escaped before he could seal off the ventilation system. As he ran through the mall in a gas mask, warning people to evacuate, he stopped to pick up a little girl. He gave her his gas mask and ran outside, handing her off to CTU medics before resuming his pursuit of the terrorists.
It helps to pause sometimes and remember why we are doing our work. Stay human!
Some things are very dangerous, but need to be done by somebody. Jack is trained to assess risks and determine what risks are acceptable. He is willing to be the person who risks his life to save others from catastrophe. I, too, am sometimes called to take risks. I may experience heartache instead of bullet wounds, but risk is part of everyone’s life.
Never, Ever Give Up
If you are still breathing, it’s not over yet! Jack has been tied hand and foot by communists–and used his teeth to kill his guard and escape. He has been shot, blown up, drugged, and gassed, but never let that stop him. While real life is not as forgiving as television can be, there is still a lesson here: things can always change, as long as you are not dead yet.