There are lots of different types of courage and they're not all about dramatic, reactive acts on a grand scale. Some are quiet acts; tipping points where choices are made with little ceremony, but that require strength, conviction, the ability to dream and not a little nerve. These quiet acts are the kind of courage that require resolution, commitment, faith in those around us and a strong sense of self.
For me, genuine courage is
about the choices we make and how true we are to our values and beliefs in the
face of challenge, whatever scale it is on. Clearly I have seen some
extraordinary examples of courage on this journey, but out of the three that
have struck me the most in the last week, only one has been related to brain
The first is my Sister; a 45 year old,
married senior operations manager in the NHS with two teenage boys, who has decided
to walk away from a successful 21 year career to go to university to retrain as
a clinician. This decision has huge financial implications for them as a family
and will require them all to make sacrifices and changes. This decision also
provides a fabulous example to those boys and will most certainly transform
this woman's future for the better. Amazing.
The second is my Sister in Law; MD of a global PR
company who, despite being in a position to walk away having sold her business, is
choosing to commit to it in its new form and choosing to have faith that as a
wider leadership team, they still have great things to do together. Also
I find both these women
inspiring and am grateful to have them in my life.
The third is Gabby Giffords, who yesterday stood in front of a
senate panel to call for greater gun control. What makes this remarkable and an
incredible act of courage is that just two years ago Gabby, a democratic member
of the US House of Representatives, was shot through the head at point blank
range at a public meeting. The bullet travelled diagonally through the left
hemisphere of her brain, unsurprisingly causing a severe and life changing
From our own experience of
severe left-hemi brain injury I can tell you that what Gabby did yesterday is a
breath taking feat and demonstrates that there are truly no limits to what
individual determination, a supportive and loving family, together with the
genius of TBI medical heroes can achieve. It is not only amazing from the
perspective of Gabby's exceptional recovery, but also the emotional and
physiological barriers she must have overcome to have found the strength to
speak so publically, eloquently and passionately. I cannot tell you how moved I
was and how much hope this woman's choice and ability to speak out gives me for
our own future. I recommend taking a few moments to watch her speak: Gabrielle Giffords' senate panel
I am in awe of all these
women and their choices; they inspire and motivate me to keep doing the right
thing and making the most of every opportunity I am fortunate to have.
I recently came across the
following quote that I think sums up the importance of having the courage and
the opportunity to choose to change.
"Though no one can
go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand
new ending". Carl
Making a brand new ending, that
sounds pretty good to me right now.
Whatever choices you make today,
whether they are big or small, I wish you courage and many happy new endings.