‘All of us can lead, every day’ Top physician & author – on young leaders
Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, renowned liver diseases expert and leadership scholar: “One of the fascinating things to me now is to see the examples of young people who are leading in amazing ways.”
Say a word “leader”, and images of politicians and civil rights advocates and leaders come to mind. But for most people the challenges of leadership come in daily ordinary life. So how to be a leader for oneself? How to be a leader for the sake and benefit of one’s own family? That’s a great question! I think the mistake made often by many of us who speak about leadership, or write about leadership – and I’m guilty of this too – is to talk about the most amazing leaders in history. So we talk about Gandhi and we talk about Churchill and Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln. I think the current Pope is a pretty amazing leader. There are amazing leaders around us, Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar… The point is: all of us can lead. And we can lead in exemplary ways, and you can lead at the level of your civic community, in your church, in your temple, in your synagogue, in your mosque. You [can lead] in a Rotary Club, in your division of gastroenterology, cardiology, surgery, in the lab where you’re doing experiments in molecular biology. You have assistants, you have people around you. You can lead in exemplary ways. One of the fascinating things to me now is to see the examples of young people who are leading in amazing ways. There’s a young lady by the name of Jennifer Staple, 19 years of age, pre-med student at Yale. She does an ophthalmology elective for a month and she’s very saddened to see people who have grown blind from treatable, preventable causes of blindness. Who are these people? Poor people in New Haven who didn’t go to see a doctor. Only when they got close to being blind or becoming blind, they went to see an eye doctor. So she comes back to Yale and with 29 other students forms an organization called Unite for Sight. In the last eight years they have done more than 82,000 sight-restoring surgeries, they have see more than a million patients. She has more than 4,000 volunteers, they include nursing students, medical students, web designers, professors of ophthalmology. She found her purpose in life by having that experience and she’s a young leader. She got admission to Stanford Medical School and she said to the Dean of Admissions: “I want to defer admission for a couple of years, I need to work for 80 hours a week on my organization and my mission.” There are many other examples I can tell of extraordinary young people, 17 – 18 – 19 years of age who are leading in amazing ways.