What Olympian Oscar Pistorius Teaches Us About 21st Century Leadership
With two blades that serve as the lower half of his legs, Olympian Oscar Pistorius defies categorization by his disability. I wonder if he even sees not having two full flesh legs as a disability? Oscar’s determination and fight to participate in this year’s Olympics is a story we all know. His compelling story holds a brilliant leadership lesson for all who lead in the 21st century.
See, we all have a common fight in this life:
Find how to move through a system that will resist you or outright reject you.
Hugh MacLeod summed it up well:
The world will always conspire to make you less than you are. So decide what you’re going to do about it, then act.
Oscar didn’t let the the doubters stop him from pursuing his dream. He set out to educate them by subjecting himself to massive medical tests and scrutiny. He did this to show he has no advantage over another man with two flesh and bone legs.
So what’s the lesson? It’s this:
We cannot let narrow minds convince us that our hopes, dreams, ideas, vision, work are ill-fitted for this world. Despite oppressive bureaucracies, corporate cultures, authoritarian leaders, lack of resources, or any other barrier, you can always choose to rise up against it.
In the context of business, what this looks like is not accepting mediocrity or apathetic employees who’ve bought into one too many empty leadership promises.
It’s deciding to hold yourself accountable to your commitments to your team.
It’s holding your team accountable for overcoming half-assed attempts at improving a process, product, or new business line. It’s daring to show you care.
It’s taking on a goal that frightens you, but can mean big wins for your team, for the business.
In the wake of epic failures led by senior executives blinded by egotism and greed, Oscar’s persistence, which was never confrontational and very influential, serves as a model to overcoming adversity with humility, grace, and grit.
Oscar did not let the system break him. And neither should you.
Graphic by Shawn Murphy