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My son recently fell on ice and after several visits to the doctor/hospital, he was diagnosed with a concussion. Even though I am aware of hockey players going to the “quiet room” after taking a hit to the head, I had little idea of what a concussion protocol entails. Specifically, for the first 24 hours, my son had to be totally quiet and restful – no cell phone, no music, no internet, no T.V., no reading, no driving. Being totally cut-off from normal life proved to be quite a hardship. Each day or two, his access to gadgets has been increased as long as he suffers no ill-effects (headaches, dizziness). Slow but sure, and predicated on the fact that another hit to the head could cause irreparable damage. So with this in mind, the NFL’s commissioner Roger Goodell gave his state of the nation, traditionally presented before the Super Bowl, and he has been lambasted by the media for avoiding the topic of concussions in football. Why? Football, as we know, is a hugely profitable business, and for the league and its owners, the legalities and implications of brain injuries suffered by players, as a direct result of using one’s head in physical contact, is absolutely enormous. Goodell’s continued avoidance of meaningfully commenting on this explosive topic makes it clear that bottom line profitability trumps the health and wellness of employees.
The blatant disregard for the well-being of even greater numbers of people is evident with Trump’s move to refuse entry into the United States of America to people from seven Muslim-majority states. We understand the need for national security, but are all Muslims terrorists? Extremists are a proven threat, but the ban affects thousands of innocent people who want to live in peace and harmony. Narcissistic leaders, who have bullied their way through life, encourage others to callously disrespect diversity. Our own example, close to home with the Quebec Mosque attack, encouraged by xenophobia, negatively distorts the world’s perception of Canada, all because of one misguided, hateful Canadian. It should be no surprise then that the term “Trumpocalypse” has made the rounds this week and that a business in Texas, building 600 sq.ft. bomb shelters, is flourishing. Trump’s mercantilism is terrifying many of our colleagues whose businesses rely heavily on exporting manufactured goods to the U.S. Negativity and fear are bombarding our psyche, our sense of well-being and the way we see the future. But it is the abject disregard of those who will suffer as a result of the decisions being made that is so frightening.
Protesters from around the world have denounced Trump’s ban, and among the hundreds of placards, one caught my eye – peoples’ lives matter. So where are our business leaders on this issue? Most of us have come to understand that publicly disagreeing with Trump is not good for business. His vindictiveness is common knowledge. We have seen it in the couple weeks since he became President. But we have seen this in corporate life too, and the career risk of speaking one’s mind with a narcissistic leader. Many will turn a blind eye to moral issues when they have a vested interest in remaining employed. Such seems to be the reality of life. There will be more and more voices that will question whether we have lost our moral compass, even our soul. It seems blindingly obvious that some people do matter, whereas others don’t. In our own small circle of friends and sphere of influence, we may not have much power to alter the outcomes as the U.S. landscape changes in front of our eyes, but we can raise our voices in protest and show compassion and understanding to all those who will be affected by this unsettling change. But even though we may have minimal influence in the big scheme of things, I would hope that we can at least influence the moral compass that exists in our organizations and in our communities. As I watch the Super Bowl tonight, and am witness to the fearsome physical contact, I will wonder just how many of those players will suffer from the effects of this high impact sport in the years ahead, and trust that being part of a good business will sustain them. In the meantime, I am reminded of Bernard Beckett’s words when he said, “human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear and superstition.” We shall see what prevails.
Ian Hendry is the president of the Strategic Capability Network. In his Morning Musings, he provides insight on issues facing today’s business leaders and looks at subject matter related to upcoming SCNetwork events.
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