- Leadership is Painful
- Courage That Cannot Be Shared
- A Personal Story, See His Blog Called Crucifixion
By Forrest Fisher
Sometimes we meet people and we meet new truth, the kind that can change the direction of our lives. It’s not often, but when we do, there is a stirring among the roots that anchor our mind. Those immovable links to common things we trust and about how we feel. There are new questions. There is a mixture of knowledge and reflection that evolve. We might question ourselves about fate and courage and destiny. We might pull back from the potential precipice of public communication or we might find a new expression for the bounds of constraint we accept about certain things as right or wrong. When we meet someone that helps us reconsider all of what we thought was honed in place for a lifetime, we have met someone with true leadership.
Jim Zumbo is that kind guy.
On social media the other day, Mr. Zumbo stepped inside the new bounds of his humble view and shared something very close to his soul. It goes like this:
“I had a life-changing experience this morning, and I’d like to share it. I’ll never forget it. I hope you’ll take the time to read it. It might make you think twice about life as well.
Most of you know about my blog. I call it my “crucifixion.” In 2006 I created what was called the biggest firestorm in the gun industry. I parted company with Outdoor Life after almost 30 years, almost all my TV sponsors left me and my show was temporarily suspended. I was written up in editorials around the country, even making the front page of the New York Times. Stephen Colbert did a nasty satire about me on the Comedy Channel, and on and on. Thousands of people hated me. I received death threats, and countless, violent, vulgar comments.
As the years passed, I perceived a black cloud over my head, everywhere I went. Even when gun company CEO’s, industry leaders, and friends and strangers told me it was water under the bridge and I was accepted back in the industry, I didn’t believe it.
Kristine KJ Houtman, a novelist I have a great deal of respect for, suggested she write my biography. I resisted, because I didn’t want to relive the emotions I’d suffered years ago. The black cloud was still there.
Then, three years ago, totally unexpected, I was told I’d be receiving the Grits Gresham Award at the SHOT Show, which is produced by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Not to blow my horn, but this is an important factor in the story here. The award, the highest honor given by the NSSF, is presented at the annual State of the Industry Banquet at SHOT, attended by some 3,000 people. I was thrilled beyond words, but then I began to worry. How would the crowd react? Would they boo, throw things on the stage? I asked Tom Gresham who would present the award, and he honestly didn’t know how the audience would react.
I was admittedly nervous and a little terrified when Tom introduced me. He wound up his intro by saying the only person who sold more guns than me was Obama. The crowd roared, and as I approached the podium I received a standing ovation. I was so overwhelmed I could hardly speak. When I stumbled through with my speech, I again received a standing ovation. Again, this is not ego talking–those ovations to me, as well as the award, were a total vindication. The black cloud was gone.
The next morning I talked to Kristine, who was also attending SHOT, and she asked if I was ready to work on the biography. I grinned ear to ear, and told her to go for it.
The book is now done, and Kristine handled the marketing. Last week she put an ad on my fan page, Jim Zumbo’s Everything Outdoors. There were about a dozen comments, half of them supportive, and the others nasty and vile. I’m fully aware that plenty of people still don’t like me, and I’ve learned to shrug off the comments. But one person commented twice, attacking me with outright lies. That upset me. Well, actually, it really pissed off. It bothered me big time.
I don’t know why, but I was compelled to write him privately. But how do I find him? I went through the slow process of looking at all the names in the Facebook world. He and I weren’t FB friends, and he had a very common name. I felt like a detective looking at hundreds of names and photos. My only hope of finding him was to match up his picture next to his comment on my fan page, with the one on the seemingly endless list. Incredibly, I found the match.
I wrote him a private FB message, politely explaining my position and telling him he had information that wasn’t true. I ended by saying Merry Christmas. Afterward I cussed myself for being so nice and for writing at all. Days went by, and I imagined him laughing his fool head off and telling his shooting buddies what a big jerk I was. I never expected to hear from him again
This morning I received a response. To me, it was a bombshell. This man, who obviously was full of hate and despised me, said, “Thank you, and Merry Christmas to you and your family.” I was overwhelmed to the point of being emotional.
And that’s my life lesson. If you reach out with an olive branch to your enemies, you may be in for a shock at their positive reaction. I will never, ever forget this.”
From my view, is there any better way to say thank you and Merry Christmas? We know when honest men meet adversity, their character is in question and one of two things will happen. We will lose all respect or we will gain all respect for this person and his position. If you want to read the whole story, Zumbo’s life story, just hop on-line and order a copy of the book you’ll find here on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Zumbo- K-J-Houtman/dp/0991111656/).