September 15 was something of a special day for me. At Medicines for Humanity’s annual award dinner at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, I was honored as Humanitarian of the Year. In truth, I was quite surprised and humbled when this award was announced a few months ago. I am still not sure why I was ‘chosen’ for this honor, because I see numerous others around us who are equally or more deserving.
With this thought, the event got me reflecting again on this extraordinary organization, and several leadership lessons that it provides.
One leadership lesson that is in line with one of the current themes of this blog, leadership is a decision.
This organization started because of the decision of one man who took a stand against injustice. Tim Bilodeau founded MFH to do something about the injustice of children dying needlessly because of poverty and poor living conditions in developing countries. The mission of MFH is to provide affordable medicines and other services that can save the lives of many of these children.
Of course, it is not only the decision of the founder that makes this organization remarkable. Today, there are 17 MFH project sites in 10 countries, and this is only possible due to the commitment and contribution of many.
In that vein, the people of Medicines for Humanity are somewhat similar to Rosa Parks. Without fanfare, and with humility, they are simply taking a stand for what they believe, standing up and saying: “This is wrong, and we don’t have to accept it”.
In my forthcoming book, to be published in Paris in October, examples from Medicines for Humanity and its founder figure prominently. In fact, I played a small part in this organization’s emergence. I was a board member nearly from the beginning, I had the privilege of coaching founder Tim for several years, and of watching as a powerful voice emerged in him and subsequently in those around him. Thus, there will be more to come on this, in this blog as well as in the book.