Transformational Courage


Step 1 – Start with what’s true

Before writing this Conversation I pondered the question, “What more do we need to do to solve the problem of medical care in America?” On reflection, the answer that popped up and would not go away was that we needed more courage.

 “Thus courage – or its absence – determines all outcomes.”

This quote comes from Gus Lee’s book, Courage: The Backbone of Leadership. According to Lee, courage plays a pivotal role in achieving significant change. Raw courage, as depicted by the lemmings rushing over the cliff, is ineffective. Commentarial courage, illustrated by “The End Is Near” comment on the sign, is also ineffective.

What I want to explore in this and the next four Conversations is transformational courage in the context of effective change. Such courage may be best identified retrospectively by its results. Some of the renowned individuals whose lives defined transformational courage include Joan of Arc, Jesus, Buddha, Martin Luther King, Lincoln, and Gandhi.

Transformational courage is naturally collaborative because it fulfills the human passion for freedom and naturally confrontational because it attacks what is unacceptable with the status quo.

Step 1 – Start with what’s true

Anchoring one’s courage with the truth can prevent lemming-like actions that may be popular, but wrong-headed.  To keep us grounded, here are five facts about health in America:

  1. The status of our health ranks at the bottom of the developed world.
  2. Life expectancy is improving at a faster rate in all the other 34 countries in the OECD compared to the US.
  3. There are over 100,000 prescription drug deaths from adverse drug reactions in the US annually (this does not include abuse or overdoses).
  4. Per capita costs of healthcare in the US are over twice that of the rest of the developed world.
  5. It takes an average of 17 years after the discovery of a new clinical finding before it becomes the standard of care.

Taken in aggregate, these truths support the inescapable conclusion that medical care in the US is failing its customers.  There are factors other than healthcare contributing to these poor outcomes, but when we spend a sixth of the economy on healthcare, getting a better bang for those bucks is key to the solution.

This conclusion, along with the quote “… courage – or its absence – determines all outcomes” certainly suggests that healthcare could benefit from a larger dose of courage.

In the next few Conversations we will explore just how true this is.

Tomorrow’s Fix Today,


Switch Healthcare designs solutions for self-insured employers.




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Edition 1 – Solving a Well-Entrenched Problem
Edition 2 – A Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Edition 3 – Best marketing tagline of all time?
Edition 4 – Post-Truth Killed a President
Edition 5 – What’s an employer to do?
Edition 6 – Profiting From the Opioid Epidemic
Edition 7 – The Keys to Unlocking Better Decisions
Edition 8 – When Difficult Things Need to be Done Well
Edition 9 – Fixing Healthcare
Edition 10 – Beware of a Singing Cow
Edition 11 – Wise Reflections
Edition 12 – Warning: Reader Discretion Advised
Edition 13 – Can AI save healthcare? (Part 1)
Edition 14 – Can AI save healthcare? (Part 2)
Edition 15 – Can AI save healthcare? (Part 3)
Edition 16 – Embracing Reality to Improve Healthcare
Edition 17 – Everything I Needed To Know…
Edition 18 – The Eighth Circle of Hell
Edition 19 – So… What’s Our Solution?
Edition 20 – Protecting Integrity as a Core Strategy
Edition 21 – An Unadorned Legacy
Edition 22 – Time to Grow Up
Edition 23 – Against All Odds
Edition 24 – When Everyone Has Stopped Listening
Edition 25 – Focusing on What’s Important
Edition 26 – Don’t Give Up Your Shot
Edition 27 – Join the Goodhood
Edition 28 – Fixing Healthcare (Recycled)
Edition 29 – Taming the Healthcare Beast
Edition 30 – Leadership
Edition 31 – Better Health Requires Good Sense
Edition 32 – Little Decisions With Big Consequences
Edition 33 – Transformational Courage
Edition 34 – Transformational Courage – Part 2
Guest Post – Happy Thanksgiving! By Jeff Novick, RD
Edition 35 – Transformational Courage – Part 3