Practice, Preparation and Courage: Giuliani, Hadfield and Wickenheiser

Accountability Personal leadership Resilience


Key Point: “My teammates are my heroes and I have the courage to be theirs.” That is the quote that hangs in the virtual dressing room of the most successful women’s hockey team in the world: Team Canada.

This week I had the privilege of attending a leadership conference where the speakers included Rudy Giuliani (the renowned former mayor of New York City), Colonel Chris Hadfield (the world’s favorite and most social media savvy astronaut) and Hayley Wickenheiser (leader of women’s Team Canada and a 4x Olympic gold medalist). All of them talked about key attributes of outstanding leadership and COURAGE was the one consistent theme that came to the top of the pile. Here’s how each elaborated.

Giuliani: “Do you have the COURAGE to confront failure by preparing and practicing?” Giuliani had a mentor who was a Superior Court Judge that taught him that he needed four hours of preparation for every one hour in the courtroom. This maxim stuck with Rudy. Although no one could have fully prepared for the devastating impact of 9/11, the fact that Giuliani had prepared relentlessly for many other disasters in NYC gave him the framework to deal with this profoundly difficult terrorist attack.

Hadfield: “It’s an unusual day when you go for a ride into space on a rocket ship.” Hadfield painted a wonderful story around having the COURAGE to not only visualize success but also envision potential failure. When going into to space there are a lot of ways to die and the only way to overcome the fear is to have the courage to prepare and practice, prepare and practice.  And then do more. Hadfield was the commander of the International Space Station when it started spewing out ammonia; a potential disaster for all the crew.

Wickenheiser: “Have the COURAGE to blossom where you’re planted and to dig a little deeper.” Hayley told the story of how the coaches gave the team beat up old mountain bikes and made them ride up Apex Mountain in Penticton, B.C. (12 percent grade) during pre-Olympic training. The COURAGE to prepare and practice that way gave the team the extra inspiration that helped them win the gold medal in overtime.

Character Moves:

  1. Remember that practicing and preparing for failure as much as success leads to a higher likelihood of achieving desired results when it comes to leadership. Giuliani, Hadfield and Wickenheiser all confronted incredible adversity and in each case intentional preparation and practice was the backbone of their individual COURAGE.
  2. Competence is also part of the framework underlying COURAGE. The need for greater personal competence is insatiable and involves a perpetual appetite for continuous learning. This also includes relentless practice.
  3. Look to your teammates as your heroes and have the COURAGE to be theirs’. When we think this way, we will prepare and practice. How could we let them down?

Preparing and practicing COURAGE in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: Especially on the anniversary of 9/11, we’re all reminded of how much COURAGE the U.S. and other allied nations continue to have when combating the worst in humanity and the biggest obstacles on a regular basis. It bothers me when people talk about the negative spirit of most individuals. I fundamentally believe that people are generally good, we just hear more about the bad… I encourage everyone to read this live Twitter feed from former White House Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, about his behind the scenes, hour-by-hour account of the events surrounding President Bush’s actions on 9/11. It’s fascinating.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis