Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Rambo: Last Blood

A Reel Leadership Article

Thirty-seven years after the first Rambo movie and eleven years after the last Rambo movie was released, Rambo: Last Blood hits the theaters. In a furious bloodbath, Sylvester Stallone steps back into one of the roles that made him famous.

Rambo: Last Blood tells the story of John Rambo years after his last great outing. He’s back and ready for war because a Mexican cartel kidnapped his adoptive niece Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal). They forced her into the sex trade. After Rambo rescued her, Gabrielle succumbed to the sexual trauma and forced drug use.

Sylvester Stallone in Rambo: Last Blood

If any of you know Rambo, you know her kidnapping and death were not good for the men responsible. Rambo is back. And he is angry.

An engaging and entertaining movie isn’t all that Rambo: Last Blood provides. Rambo: Last Blood is full of leadership lessons. We’re going to dive into those leadership lessons from Rambo: Last Blood here.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Rambo: Last Blood

1. Leaders hope for the best and prepare for the worst:

The movie opens with Rambo going through the tunnels under his father’s old house. Rambo has taken over the home and lives there with Gabrielle and her grandmother Maria Beltran (Adrianna Barraza).

The tunnels were built for a reason. The reason was in case war visited Rambo again. Sadly, for Rambo, war would be upon him sooner than he would have liked.

As a leader, you have to hope for the best. You have to believe there are great things coming for your organization. You also have to realize and prepare for the worst.

Bad things are going to happen as you lead. Your organization’s financials may tank. Your best people may quit. Or you may find yourself without a job.

If you were wise, you would have prepared for the worst. You would have a backup to your financial woes. You would have people in the back of your mind that could come in and replace those who have left. And you would have a Rolodex of numbers you could call on in the time of need.

Be hopeful. Also, be prepared.

2. Gabrielle:

I hate to break it to you but nobody writes letters anymore.

Gabrielle learned Rambo had made her a going away present for college. He had crafted a cool knife letter opener. As he presented it to Gabrielle, she broke the news to him.

Gabrielle believed no one wrote letters anymore. Because of this, his letter opener would be useless.

Technology had changed in the world. People text and send emails. Rarely do people write letters anymore (it’s sad and depressing but true in most cases).

You have to stay up to date on technology. As it changes, learn the new technology. Become proficient (you don’t have to become an expert). Know how to use the new technology.

This will help you stay relevant. You won’t be left behind in the changing technological landscape.

3. Your outward appearance can scare people:

Rambo learned that Gabrielle was going to visit some friends. He asked her why they weren’t coming over to her house. Her answer shocked Rambo.

She wasn’t bringing her friends because Rambo scared them. The way he stared at people scared them. They didn’t want to visit.

Did Rambo know the way he looked at people scared them? Probably not. He was a hardened war veteran. He felt like he was looking at them normally.

You may have a harsh face when looking at people. Another great leader did too.

Michael Hyatt shared in one of his blog posts how he had a resting unhappy face. Those he led felt like he was angry or upset. He wasn’t but his face said differently.

You have to be careful about what your body language tells people. You may be giving others a completely incorrect view of how you feel.

4. Great leaders reflect on their past and realize they made mistakes:

When Gabrielle was young, her father used to beat her mother. Eventually, her mother died of cancer. Shortly after, her father left her with her grandmother.

Gabrielle had wanted to reconnect with her father. She was able to find him through the help of her friend Jezel (Fenessa Pineda). Jezel had located Gabrielle’s father and given her his location.

Gabrielle approached Uncle Rambo and let him know her intentions. She was going to go and find her father.

Rambo told her this was a bad idea. Gabrielle retorted that she thought this was the right path and Rambo did what he thought was right when he was 17.

She was right. Rambo did do what he thought was right. He went to war. However, the war has haunted him for years. He let Gabrielle know this. He also let her know he wished someone would have stopped him.

Rambo reflected on his past. He saw the mistakes he had made. He wished he could have changed his past.

Have you reflected on your past? Can you see where you made the right choices and where you wish someone else would’ve stepped up and stopped you from making the wrong choices?

Great leaders can differentiate their great choices from their poor choices. They don’t lie to themselves and tell themselves they made the right choice all of the time. They own their mistakes.

5. Your choice can have disastrous consequences:

Gabrielle had a choice. She could listen to her wise uncle. Or she could make a choice to go find her father.

She chose to go to Mexico and find her father.

Upon her arrival, she met with her former friend Jezel. Jezel brought Gabrielle to her father. When Gabrielle met her father, he rejected her and told her to get out of his life.

Gabrielle then went back to Jezel. She brought Gabrielle to a nightclub where she had set up for the Mexican cartel to kidnap her.

Sadly, Gabrielle chose a path that led to her death.

Every choice you make will have a consequence associated with it. More of your choices will be positive than negative. However, you have to be aware your bad choices could have disastrous consequences.

Maybe your organization will go bankrupt. Maybe a great team member will lose their job. Or you might shutter a plant.

Your choices have consequences. Try to make the best ones you can.

6. Your feelings shouldn’t dictate your actions:

Rambo was beyond upset with Gabrielle when he discovered she had left for Mexico. She had gone against his suggestions.

Rambo had a choice. He could sit and stew on his feelings. He could tell Gabrielle to be a woman and live with her choices.

Despite how he felt, Rambo chose to go rescue Gabrielle. He chose to be compassionate with her and her choices. He couldn’t leave her in Mexico.

You will become angry at those you lead. You will like you need to let your people suffer from their choices.

Whiley ou could do this, great leaders don’t. They don’t let their actions dictate how they react to situations.

Instead of being upset and angry, you need to figure out what to do next. What steps need to be taken to correct the situation? How can you help? What can be done?

These are the things leaders think through… despite how they feel.

7. The wrong people will bring you down:

We discover that Jezel is not the friend she claims to be. She did find Gabrielle’s dad. She also sold her to the Mexican cartel.

This put Gabrielle in a downward spiral. She would be put on drugs. She would be sold to men. And she would eventually die.

This happened because Gabrielle chose to trust the wrong people. She chose to associate with those who didn’t care about her.

There’s something we can take away from this. We can learn that our friendships matter. The people we hang around can either lift us up or bring us down.

Be careful who you bring into your circle of friendship. The right people will lift you up. The wrong people will bring you down a path you may not be able to return from.

8. John Rambo:

I know how black a man’s heart can be.

At his heart, Rambo is a good man. He did what he did because of his training and what he had experienced. This also exposed Rambo to some bad, bad men.

He has seen the worst the world has to offer. From a corrupt and angry Sherriff in First Blood to a crooked Burmese military to the Mexican cartel, Rambo has seen the darkness in man’s heart.

There are good people out there. They long to do good work. They long to help others. And then there are those whose hearts are dark.

These men are angry. They despise the truth. They only look out for themselves.

Be wary of men with black hearts. They will only look out for themselves.

9. Bad leaders believe people don’t matter:

Victor Martinez (Oscar Jaenada) and his brother Hugo Martinez (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) were the heads of the Mexican cartel that had kidnapped Gabrielle. They were forcing women into the sex trade. They didn’t care about them.

One of the Martinez brothers told Rambo something disturbing. He told Rambo that the girls don’t mean anything to them. They were only merchandise.

Ouch. That’s harsh. It’s also how too many leaders view people. They fail to find value in the people they lead.

I know you’re not one of those leaders. You believe people have value. That people matter.

Make sure you’re showing your team members their value. Help them see themselves through the positive lens you see them.

10. Carmen Delgado (Paz Vega):

Why do I need to know you (to help you)? You were in trouble.

Carmen was in the bar when Rambo kidnapped a member of the Mexican cartel. She saw him bring the man outside and torture him. She also followed Rambo when he left to find Gabrielle.

Rambo was able to find the location of Gabrielle. He was also confronted by the Mexican cartel. In a gang beating, Rambo was knocked out. He wasn’t able to win this fight.

It’s a good thing Carmen had followed him. She was able to get him up, to a doctor, and a place to recover. She helped Rambo without knowing him.

When Rambo asked why she helped him when she didn’t know him, Carmen responded with a line every leader should live out. She told Rambo that she saw a man in need and she helped him. She didn’t need to know him.

Are you willing to help those in need that you never see? Leaders go above and beyond. They see injustice and they go to work. They see someone hurting and they go to them to help.

Be a leader who helps others regardless of whether or not you know them. Great leaders help others.

11. Know your inciting incident:

Rambo’s inciting incident for Last Blood was the death of his niece. He had rescued her but then she passed away. This blew the lid off of the anger, rage, and violence Rambo had kept contained for the last eleven or so years.

The death of his niece set Rambo on a path. One he almost didn’t return from.

We all have an inciting incident. I remember the inciting incident for my leadership journey.

Many moons ago, I worked for the now-defunct Circuit City. I was in the warehouse when I saw a leader at Circuit City come back to the warehouse, climb on a shelving rack, and take a nap.

This triggered a desire to learn more about leadership. To figure out how to do this thing right.

You know what your inciting incident is. Make sure you use that to push yourself towards becoming a better leader.

12. Accomplish big goals:

The Mexican cartel came to Rambo’s front door. They brought a veritable army to fight him.

The odds were stacked against Rambo. It was one man versus an army. To the outside world, it looked like Rambo was dead.

He wasn’t. He knew how to accomplish big goals.

To survive, Rambo took out one or two members of the Mexican cartel at a time. By taking out a small number here or there, he was able to defeat the bad guys and live to see another day.

When you want to accomplish a big goal, look at it the way Rambo did. Find a way to take small chunks out of the goal. The more small chunks you take out, the smaller the big goal becomes.

It’s all about eating the elephant here. You eat the elephant one bite at a time. You accomplish your goal by taking small bites out of it.

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

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