What Courage Looks Like

Twice a year we do a program for leaders and emerging leaders. It is a four session program spread over five months. Each time I include clips of leaders who have and continue to make a difference in our world.

There are a few staples, like Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln.

We choose from a wide array of business leaders, media, the arts, and people who I call “Giraffes” (those willing to stick their necks out to make a positive difference).

Recently I was looking for those who exemplify vast courage to tackle unpopular issues and who are not willing to back down or be bought into silence.

If you have not seen or read Ibsen’s play, An Enemy of the People, it is worth the time to dig into this classic about speaking out when economic issues want us to stay in denial.

That brings us up to the present moment. Watching Dr. Bennett Omalu, played by Will Smith in the 2015 film, Concussion makes us realize that patterns of denial run deep and are sadly, as old as time.

Omalu, a forensic pathologist working in Pittsburgh brought CTE, a form of brain injury to the forefront. It appears to be rampant in the NFL and possibly starting when youngsters play high school and college football.

Just recently, after his death, Kathie Lee Gifford, wife of star quarterback and national hero Frank Gifford, permitted an autopsy that showed yes, Mr. Gifford had suffered from CTE.

The film, Concussion shows how the power of economics can foster the desire to avoid and deny critical issues, even if health is at risk. It shows that speaking up and standing your ground can be just as deadly as the diseases that come to light (think back to the tobacco companies and smoking).

Then I came across a woman that exemplifies true heroism. She lives in a very complex culture and I know you will find her story intriguing.

Chai Jing is a journalist living in China whose documentary, Under the Dome about pollution in her country received 300 million views in four days before it was taken down. It is still available in the United States and I want to honor the courage it takes to go against old, outdated thinking and take the risk of speaking out.

Who else would you put on the list of courage in action? That is what we need in today’s leaders all over the globe.

Sylvia Lafair

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