Affinity and Beyond – Episode 9

Brianna began to explore how talent discovery impacts society. She began to explore how one person’s talent can have a major impact on society. That made her wonder how much society had missed by talent not developed or impeded.

Ignaz Semmelweis was born into a prosperous family. When he began to go to college, his intention was to become a lawyer, but he discovered his talent was more directed to medicine. He had hoped to specialize in internal medicine, but couldn’t find a clinical position in this area of medicine. He turned to obstetrics and as fate would have it, his talent could change the successful delivery of children.

It was the mid-19th century and the mortality rate of women during childbirth was around 10%. Ignaz was greatly troubled by the high mortality rates. Working with free maternity clinics, he gradually eliminated all probable causes of the high mortality rates. By accident, he discovered that doctors delivering babies had particles on their hands that were the cause of the problem. He proposed that doctors follow a cleanliness routine before assisting in the delivery of a baby.

His idea was rejected, and he was ridiculed. He was relieved of his hospital privileges and forced to relocate. The medical community continued to harass him, and he was sent to a mental institution. He died 14 days after being hospitalized. Over time, washing of hands before any surgery became standard medical practice once doctors understood the concept of germs.  Semmelweis is now known as the savior of mothers, but he paid a huge price for his convictions.

Having a special talent carries with it a need for courage when that talent goes against conventional wisdom. Having the courage of your convictions is probably something that most people profess they have. But do they? Brianna felt that in many cases the answer is probably no. She wondered what role courage played in Henry’s development of talent.

Up until she had become aware of Ignaz Semmelweis, Brianna had never considered the linkage between talent and courage. Often those with talent are pioneers and challenge the status quo. This was an area she wanted to explore with Henry.

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“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
– Franklin Roosevelt

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