5 Lessons from the movie “Concussion”

Image result for dr bennet omalu

Dr Bennet Omalu with Will Smith, Source: EURweb.com

Chiamaka Chuke-Okafor

This episode is all about Perseverance. There are so many examples of international personalities who have shown that people who have managed to identify their purpose and true mission and focus solely on it are able to preserve during hard times. The most important thing is to ensure that we are dancing in tune with our hearts and focus on one thing that summarises who we are and that which we are hoping to achieve.

I have talked to some amazing individuals who describe themselves in the most simple but unique way that simply sums up what they believe their mission truly is. So, that should be our goal, right? To discover our mission on earth and focus our energy on accomplishing it by taking small daily actionable steps.

The story of Dr. Benneth Omalu is one that fascinates me in different ways. So for those who don’t know, he is a Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist, and neuropathologist who was the first to discover and publish findings of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players. There was a lot of criticism and questions were asked about the validity of the disease. In fact, in the annual American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN), they are still debating on whether CTE exists or not.

When Dr. Omalu first published the facts he found out about CTE in a paper, he hoped that the National Football League (NFL) would be pleased with the finding and would work with him to find a cure, but instead, NFL doctors requested a retraction of the publication and characterized Dr. Omalu’s description of CTE as “completely wrong”. The even called the paper “a failure. As Dr. Omalu stood by his truth and tried to persuade the NFL to accept and tell the truth, it became a battle. If you know it simply became a repeat of “David and Goliath”. Dr. Omalu didn’t have just the NFL to deal with but football fans too. He got death threats and people around him were targeted and threatened in different ways. The NFL for years continued to discredit his findings and did not publicly acknowledge the link between concussions sustained in football and CTE until December 2009, which was seven years after Dr. Omalu’s discovery.

5 Lessons I took from Dr. Benneth Omalu’s story.

A little naivety protects us from the paralysis of fear. If Dr. Omalu was a born American and understood how massive the NFL really was and how obsessed Americans are with American Football, would chase the research on CTE the way he did? Probably but also maybe he would have been such a fan of football that he too would be blinded by the weird nature of a game that insists on sane men bumping heads with each other over and over again a thousand times.

Today, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy has become a generally accepted disease and principle, if not common knowledge, in the medical literature. It has become a broadly diagnosed disease by clinicians and pathologists and in fact, some people have described the Mike Webster autopsy as one of the most significant single events in the history of sports because of the discovery and diagnosis of CTE.

You’ve got to stand by your belief. When push comes to shove, it will always be you and your conscience left standing. The worst decisions are the ones that go against your conscience and my experience is, don’t do it. Dr. Omalu believed in his truth and stood by it. One of his famous quotes is,“No matter who you are, no matter the color of your skin, there’s only one truth,”. A lot of people did not like what he was saying about CTE but a lot of people like mothers spouses, close friends and children of past, current and future American football players mostly appreciate it. He continues to search for the cure for CTE but at least now, people know.

Don’t leave any work undone while you are still breathing. Dr. Omalu’s full last name is Onyemalukwube which translates to “if you know, come forth and speak. When he was asked if he had lived up to his name, Dr. Omalu laughed and answered, “I have! I have!” How often do we hold ourselves back at work in life because we think what we have to say doesn’t matter and because we second guess and question ourselves? We often think thoughts like, nobody will listen because I don’t feel empowered, I am a foreigner, I have an accent, and nobody really cares? I learnt from Dr. Omalu that it is crucial to focus on your objective, be aware of the noise around you but don’t let it drown you. If it helps, shut it out, regroup and continue.

Don’t go it alone. No man is an island. There is an Igbo adage that when you pee together, it gets foamy. Unusual that may sound, but how true. Whilst you are persevering, don’t alienate yourself. It is so important to have a mentor. Dr. Omalu found this in his boss who was built like him and believe in the truth like he did and stood by him even if it meant being targeted, threatened and being falsely arrested. Find people who believe in your course who can stand with you and add to your voice. Dr. Omalu finally partnered with Julian Bailes, a neurosurgeon, concussion researcher and then chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at West Virgins University School of medicine and West Virginia Attorney Robert P. Fitzsimmns to found the Brain Injury Research Institute, establishing a brain and tissue bank and together they continue to research and present findings of CTE to the NFL and the world.

Focusing on accomplishing your objective has a unique way of opening new doors when the time is right. God and the universe have a way of opening up opportunities so you never know…. Dr. Omalu’s work was published in a GQ magazine article in 2009, which then was extended into a book and subsequently into a movie where the movie was centred on his character and played by Will Smith (brilliant as always!). So, keep preserving and you never know.

Resources Mentioned

Article Source: http://www.iamafripreneur.com/5-lessons-from-the-movie-concussion-about-dr-bennet-omalu/

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