Steve on Leadership # 5

Donna Ritchie, one of Australia’s great Paralympics’ basketballers, and an elite champion athlete and leader (and inspiration to us all), was injured in a horrific accident which left her in a wheelchair, and spend a considerable time in rehabilitation.

Donna could easily have given up, and succumbed to her appalling difficulties, but Donna refused to give in to her challenges, and went on to become an elite athlete through sheer “guts”, determination, and strength of character.

I had the enormous privilege of spending time with Donna on a number of occasions, and she has never not impressed me by her determination to get on with a wonderful life, and her energy. She is a wonderful example of the strength of the human spirit, and leadership in adversity.

Someone asked Donna, (and I had the good fortune to be there), whether she ever thought of giving up to the pain and difficulty. Donna’s response still rings in my ears: “It never ever, ever, ever, ever crossed my mind to give up. Not ever. Not once.”

As an “able bodied” person, I felt very humbled. Donna has achieved greatness and leadership despite enormous difficulties and suffering, and is a great example to me.

Looking at Donna’s guts and achievements, what excuse do I have? What excuse do you have not to take on the mantle of leadership?

Not only has Donna made me re-evaluate the concept on “dis-ability”, she has made me re-examine the fundamentals on leadership. She is an example to us all.
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