Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Brian Banks

A Reel Leadership Article

Brian Banks was a rising football star at Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California. He had what it would take to make it into the NFL. Then tragedy struck. In 2002, Brian Banks (Aldis Hodge) was wrongfully convicted of rape through a plea of no contest.

Sadly, his wrongful conviction would sideline his hopes and dreams. He wouldn’t go to college and play football in the NFL. Instead, Banks would six years imprisoned and another five years on parole. Through all of this, he maintained his innocence.

Aldis Hodge as Brian Banks

Aldis Hodge as Brian Banks

Brian Banks the movie tells Brian’s moving story. Viewers are treated to a story of wrongful imprisonment, lies, and wrongs being overcome.

Brians Banks is a powerful movie. One every person, especially every leader, should watch at least once. Your eyes will be opened to the injustice in the legal system. More than that, you will see how the truth can prevail.

Brian Banks will not only help you see the above. The movie will do more. Brian Banks contains plenty of leadership lessons you can take away and grow with. Are you ready for today’s Reel Leadership lessons from Brian Banks?

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Brian Banks

1. Don’t believe the naysayers:

Early in the movie, you see Brian Banks fitted for a tether device. Banks was on parole and the California justice system required him to wear a tether.

His parole officer, Mick Randolph (Dorian Missick), tried to dash Banks’ dreams. He was hardheaded and couldn’t see past Banks’ conviction.

To squash Banks’ dreams, Mick told Banks to give up on his dreams. He was not going to be able to play ball in the NFL. He should be happy he was out of prison.

Banks wouldn’t believe this. He knew he was created for more. In the end, we see Banks live out the dream.

As you push forward, you will have naysayers in your life. They will tell you that you cannot or should not pursue a passion God has placed within you.

Their intentions may be good. They may not want you to be hurt if your dreams fail. Or they may believe you cannot succeed because they never took the risk.

You can push past the naysayers. You can work towards your dreams.

2. Use your story:

Brian Banks had heard of an organization that helped wrongly convicted persons overturn their convictions. This organization was called the California Innocence Project.

To be considered, they had to hear your story and believe you. They also had to believe they had a chance of winning.

Brian had previously contacted them and been turned down. In another attempt, his mother, Leomia Myers (Sherri Shepherd), encouraged her son to write them and share his story. To share who he is.

While Justin Brooks (Greg Kinnear) temporarily turned down his request, Banks’ new request raised interest at the California Innocence Project. His story helped get his case heard.

You may think you don’t have a great story. You may think your story is too painful to share. Either way, your story is important.

Your story will help your team understand who you are and why you do what you do. The story you share with them will open their eyes to your true self.

It’ll make connections where there were none. You will form new, powerful relationships because you were willing to open up.

3. Your story may be painful to others. Your story can also heal:

One of the places Banks applied for employment was a gym. There, he met a young lady named Karina (Melanie Liburd).

The two hit it off. They went out to lunch. Then Banks let the cat out of the bag.

Banks told Karina what had happened. He was open and honest. Unfortunately, Karina left him after he told her what had happened to him.

I believe honesty is the best policy. Your story, regardless of how horrible it is, is your story. There is power behind it.

However, know not every person who hears your story will stick around. Your story may be painful to them. They may have experienced something similar.

Hearing your story can be painful to someone who has been through a similar incident. Yet your story can also draw them back.

While Karina left Banks after she heard what he had been convicted of, this wasn’t the end of the story. Karina came back because of his honesty.

Your story may be painful to others. Your story can also bring healing to those same people.

Don’t be ashamed of your story.

4. Prison Counselor Jerome Johnson (Morgan Freeman):

Given the right perspective, prison can become a gift.

Morgan Freeman, in an uncredited role as the prison counselor, dropped a huge truth bomb on Brian Banks. He told Banks that prison can be a gift.

That gift? The gift prison could present was that it can free those inside from all of the distractions that come from living outside of the walls of the prison. Prison gave prisoners a chance to pursue self-improvement and who they should be.

Our tragedies can be the greatest gift we ever receive. The struggles and the pain we go through? They can lead us to who we need to become.

Don’t get angry when things don’t go your way. Look at the possibilities these detours can provide for you.

5. Beware of bad counsel:

When Banks had gone to court, he was appointed a public defender. His public defender encouraged him to plead no contest to the rape and kidnapping charges alleged by Kennisha Rice (Xosha Roquemore).

He was advised he would receive probation and be free. This did not happen.

As you know, Brian Banks was convicted of rape and kidnapping and sentenced to years in prison. His dreams were dashed because he listened to bad counsel.

Bad counsel can destroy a good person. When you listen to the wrong people, you can heed their advice and go in the wrong direction.

Before listening to someone’s guidance, weigh out whether or not they’re worthy of being listened to. Make sure the counsel is right and wise. Otherwise, you may end up where you don’t want to be.

6. Brian Banks:

There’s no good way to tell a bad story.

Brian knew his story wasn’t a good one. Because of this, there wasn’t a good way to tell his story to others.

However, his story was one that needed to be shared. The story of injustice, of wrong, of time stolen away… Hearing Banks’ story will open people’s eyes to the truth of what happens in the real world.

Sometimes you will have to tell a bad story. A bad story isn’t one that isn’t true. A bad story is one that is hard to tell because of the pain it may bring.

Don’t shy away from telling bad stories. The bad story you may have to tell is one of letting someone go. Or how the organization is changing gears.

Bad stories shouldn’t not be shared. They should be shared in the best way they can.

7. Apologize for making assumptions:

Karina made assumptions about Brian Banks. She automatically shut him out because of his story.

She eventually came to her senses. When she did, she knew what she had to do. Karina had to apologize to Brian for her assumptions.

We all make assumptions. We do this to easily assess another person or situation.

Our assumptions can prevent us from making bad business decisions. Our assumptions can also make us push away good people.

Be wary of making assumptions. They’re not always true or just.

If you’ve made an assumption that has hurt someone, be man enough to apologize.

8. You don’t have to accept broken systems:

When Banks was denied counsel from the California Innocence Project, he didn’t accept the denial. He pushed back against the denial and Mr. Brooks.

Brooks had told Banks the system was broken. Sometimes nothing could be done.

Good people will not stand for broken systems. They will fight back until the broken system is fixed, like Banks did.

Many organizations have broken systems. Whether or not we like to admit this, they are there. Your organization may have broken systems as well.

Will you be willing to stand up against a broken system? Will you have the courage to not accept brokenness?

Great leaders don’t accept broken systems. They look for ways to fix them.

9. A good leader can change people:

Jerome didn’t have a lot of time with Banks. He was in and out of his life in a flash. However, Jerome’s presence in Banks’ life would change him forever.

Jerome had instilled new, positive thoughts into Banks’ mind. He had told him things like “The path to happiness begins and ends in your mind” or “Prison can be a gift.” He also helped him improve through books.

Jerome gave Banks a copy of As A Man Thinketh by James Allen. This book inspired and helped Banks during his time in prison.

Don’t think your influence cannot change someone. Your influence, your care for others will leave a lasting, changing impact on those you lead.

Be a leader who does his best to always improve his team members. Remember, a person can influence change in just a few brief interactions.

10. Brian Banks:

I just want a chance to turn all this negativity into something positive.

Brian Banks went through hell and back. He could have had a much different outlook on life.

Instead, Banks chose to look for ways to make his negative experience into a positive. He didn’t want his experience to be wasted.

You will face many negative experiences throughout your time as a leader. You will face brokenness, hurt, anger, wrongdoing, and more.

These are all negative experiences you can use to turn into something positive. Don’t waste the negative experiences. Find ways to make them into something positive.

11. Rules can be bent:

Randolph learned Banks had lied to him. Banks had told him he was going to a job interview at a corporate headquarters. Instead, he went to meet with Brooks from the California Innocence Project and District Attorney Mateo (Jose Miguel Vasquez) outside of the area he could travel. He also discovered he had contacted and recorded Kennisha. This was a huge no-no.

When Randolph discovered this, he brought Brooks in. There, he told him, under law, he had to report Brooks for parole violations. However, he would give Brooks 8 weeks before he would report him.

Randolph did this to give Brooks time to find evidence and overturn his conviction. He knew the rule was unjust in this situation.

There are times a leader must bend the rules. The rules are there for guidance. They are not there to be hard and fast.

You can bend the rules when it comes to extenuating circumstances. Don’t hold onto rules so tightly you push away good people who messed up once or need a little grace extended to them.

12. Don’t give up:

Banks could easily have given up and accepted his fate. He would forever be labeled an ex-con. This label would follow him for the rest of his life.

Everyone around him told him to give it up. His parole officer. Brooks from the California Innocence Project. Other people in his life…

But Brooks wouldn’t give up. He knew his innocence.

By not giving up, Brooks cleared his name. He also received a second chance at playing in the NFL.

While he didn’t go to college and play football, he was able to get a tryout from a coach with the Seattle Seahawks. This didn’t pan out.

With that chance gone, Brian got another chance to play in the NFL. He was eventually able to play for the Atlanta Falcons.

It is so easy to give up. The trials and tribulations you face can be overwhelming. But what happens when you give up? It is the end.

When you don’t give up, there’s always another chance. Another possibility.

Be a leader who never gives up on yourself. On your family. On those you lead.

13. Brian Banks:

The truth matters.

Banks knew something. He knew the truth matter no matter what else happened.

This is why he continued to push through and get his conviction overturned. The truth mattered and it must be heard.

Do you believe what Banks believed? Do you believe the truth matters?

As a leader, you need to believe the truth matters. The truth is what you have to go on. It is what you have to lead on.

If you lead from any other position than the truth, you are leading from sinking sand. Find the truth. Lead from the truth.

14. Give convicted felons a chance:

You will see in Brian Banks that convicted felons have a hard time finding employment. You may be one of those leaders who will turn away a convicted felon simply because of their past.

While using their prior convictions to deny them employment is legal, is it good practice?

We all have demons in our past. We have all done things we never want other people to find out.

What if everything you have done in the past is laid out on a resume? The time you lied or stole? The time you backstabbed another coworker? Would you hire that person?

Probably not. But yet you still believe you deserve a job.

Many convicted felons made a mistake. Or they didn’t have the best start in life. They made choices that led them down a bad, bad path.

They’ve paid the price. They’re paying the price.

If leaders don’t start to stand up and offer convicted felons a second chance, convicted felons will continue to make the same bad choices, the same mistakes they previously made.

You have the opportunity to change the course of someone’s life. You can extend a helping hand and break the cycle of imprisonment.

The next time you see “I have been convicted of a felony” checked on an application, don’t throw the application into the circular file. Instead, consider if the man or woman could have changed. Consider whether or not you would want a second chance in their position.

If you and others are unwilling to extend a second chance to them, there’s a good chance they will repeat their previous actions and wind back up in jail. If there’s no other option to make income, they will look back towards their old life.

You can change this

I hope you will consider this the next time.

Question: If you’ve watched Brian Banks, what leadership lessons did you take away from the movie? If you haven’t seen the movie, what Reel Leadership lessons from Brian Banks that I shared resonated with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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