Watching Malala Yousofzai speaking at the UN on her 16th birthday about a year after she was shot on the head and neck by the Taliban, motivated me to write this blog on Courage.
While her entire speech was inspiring and can be watched in the embedded video, I would like to quote the following part to illuminate this blog;
“Dear brothers and sisters; do remember one thing. Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights. There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for human rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goals of education, peace and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them.
So here I stand… one girl among many.
I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys.
I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.
Those who have fought for their rights: Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated.
Dear Friends, on the 9th of October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed. And then, out of that silence came, thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
The big lesson from the above excerpt is that strength, power and courage can be created only by being strong, powerful and courageous. When the cowards attack the courageous, they kill the weakness, fear and hopelessness.
Courage is the ability to decide and act righteously even if everyone else is opposed. This is important to all of us as it will help create the right culture for our families, societies’, organizations, countries and the world. This will help us march together towards our dreams.
Let me take some examples from the noble industry that I am most associated with during this phase of my life.
Research in the USA shows that only about 20% of health care staff is fully engaged and passionate. They are more courageous than others. They are twice likely to take on a challenge than others; they have twice the amount of social relationship than others. They have 2 times the IQ of others and are likely to be twice as successful as others.
There are many examples of nurses reminding physicians about infection control practices and physicians accepting the inputs with humility. This takes courage from both sides. There are rare instances this does not happen. There are instances where a junior team member reminds a departmental head to start the meeting reciting the mission of the hospital and the departmental head accepting the input with humility. This takes courage from both sides. There are rare instances this does not happen.
It is known that courageous people are more empathetic. Therefore we should all practice empathy. We need to push ourselves to act with courage starting with baby steps & encourage others to do so as well.
Use every moment to practice courage and empathy. As in Malala’s example this will inspire others to start becoming more courageous. It will kill the fear, the weakness and hopelessness. It will create strength, power and courage.
Let courage beget courage and the personal and professional reward of doing so will be amazing!