The Sunday Mail
Hunt for Greatness
SOME names are difficult to pronounce and there are things that are difficult to do. However, that does not mean they cannot be done.
What is difficult now will not be hard forever. What cannot be done now will not be so forever. Believe in yourself and be confident that you can do great things.
In every generation, there are people who choose to stand up, make a difference and change the course of history. Some of these people are not celebrated in their time. Some of their contemporaries choose to spit on them.
But in a few years, the tide changes and they are revered as heroes and visionaries.
It is not enough to see things as they are and assume this is all.
Dare to challenge the status quo
Dare to take a leap forward and rewrite the rules. It is not the glory of today that matters, but the verdict of posterity.
If generations yet unborn can applaud us, then, we are truly great for our time. Eyes that look are common; eyes that see are rare. It is not enough to look at decay and just sneer.
It is not enough to look at what is not working and criticise. It is not enough to just dream and wish for better. You have to get up and act.
You have to wake up and pursue your dream. You have to wake up and challenge your mountain.
This is what Dr Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis did. He observed intently, took action and challenged the popular wisdom of the day. His colleagues did not believe him, and campaigned against him. This did not change the fact that he was a trailblazer and innovator. He chose to think and do things differently.
Dr Semmelweis was lampooned, shunned and taken for a mad man. Yet he truly saved lives, and it took a generation for him to be vindicated. Those who follow the crowd will rarely be followed by the crowd.
Dr Semmelweis was a medical doctor, who was born in 1818. He worked at the Vienna General Hospital in Austria. The hospital had two maternity wards — one attended to by doctors and the other by midwives.
The popular wisdom is doctors know better and are trained better. But wisdom knows no boundaries. Do not let anyone despise you.
Believe in yourself and take action confidently. In the ward attended to by doctors, the mortality rate was 10-35 percent.
This means, on average, for every 10 women who went into the ward to deliver, one to three would die.
On the other hand, the other ward had a mortality rate of less than 4 percent. The public knew this well. People know regardless of clever things you say to them.
Facts will always speak louder.
Reality is stubborn.
Dr Semmelweis observed that women would often cry hysterically and beg to be allowed to deliver in the ward attended to by midwives. This puzzled him.
Doctors were supposed to be preferred and better trained. Some of the women would even prefer to give birth by the roadside near the hospital to doing so in the hospital. It was even more surprising that those who gave birth by the roadside or anywhere, away from the hospital, had even lower mortality rates.
How could this be when doctors are the celebrated guardians of health and doyens of the practice of medicine?
This question worried Dr Semmelweis and he searched for answers.
Never run away from a good challenge. Do not run away from a good question. Allow a challenge to challenge you. Live the question, even if today you do not have the answer.
Do not let any problem overwhelm you. Escape is not one of the pathways to greatness. Do not let problems and challenges push you around. Stress your stresses and worry your worries. It is better to take action than to just observe, stew in worry and accept the status quo. Change never comes until you start taking radical and determined action.
Dr Semmelweis started matching the factors in the two wards and none of the things he did initially worked. Adversity is always pregnant with opportunity.
One day, his long-time mentor and medical friend died after he was accidentally punctured with the scalpel that another doctor and his students were using. His symptoms before death and pathology were similar to those of the maternity mothers who had died of what was believed to be childbirth fever. That, for him, was a eureka moment.
Suddenly, he understood something that had been in front of him all along. The midwives would wash themselves before delivering a baby. The doctors would move from the post-mortem examinations they were doing with cadavers and go straight to the delivery room. Remember, this was more than 200 years ago and the germ theory was no yet known.
What does a doctor need to wash for?
Washing hands was below the dignity of busy doctors, who had patients calling and waiting.
Dr Semmelweis postulated that doctors carried with them particles from the pathology ward into the maternity ward.
He decided to make one decisive change. He insisted that doctors wash their hands in a chlorine and lime solution before going into the maternity ward. As a result, the mortality levels dropped to normal levels.
Nonetheless, some medical authorities in other hospitals laughed at him and refused his recommended regimen, preferring their old ways. Old habits die hard.
Keep learning and leaping forward all the time. Ignorance has no barriers; knowledge has no monopoly. Keep asking and you will find the answers that perhaps experts have missed.
Keep knocking and the doors will open for you. Believe in your dream. Believe in your visions and trust your thoughts. Keep seeking and you will realise that the answers were there all along. Never let critics discourage you. Dream on and take action.
If necessary, dare to be different.
Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author and a virtual, hybrid and in-person workshop facilitator.
He is a cutting-edge strategy, team-building and organisation development facilitator and consultant. He can be reached at: [email protected]/ www.miltonkamwendo.com