Hope and Courage

It was the mid-19th century, and the mortality rate of women during childbirth was around 10%. Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician, 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 the courage of your convictions is probably something that most people profess they have. But do they? In most cases, the answer is probably no. We have become a risk averse society. Think about how we chose between a right and unpopular direction and a safe but only moderately effective one. Most people would choose the safe route.

Unfortunately, those who have the courage of their convictions are not so good at getting others to understand their beliefs. When you think about successful leaders who demonstrate a courage of their convictions, they have one thing in common. They were great story tellers. They could portray their beliefs in ways that conveyed hope. Not only did they tell stories, but others began to tell their own stories.

* * *

“You gain strength, courage, and usefulness by every experience in which you stop and look fear in the face.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.