Presidential leadership is critical to success during a major national or international crisis. We are in major international health and economic crisis with the Covid-19 Pandemic. President Teddy Roosevelt is an excellent example of how he handled the health crisis during the construction of the Panama Canal.
People probably have long forgotten how close America came to failing like France in building the Panama Canal. Because of Teddy Roosevelt's leadership of Roosevelt and a critical decision, he made that turned things around and made America Great.
We are at a point where if this crisis is not handled well, America may no longer remain a global power. I don't want to be an alarmist, but just look at how things have changed in a very short time. In less than a month, the policies of two Democratic presidential candidates (Yang and Sanders) are being pushed by the Republicans.
All power, according to history, comes to an end sooner or later. Will 2020 be the beginning of the end of America's greatness?
The key decision Roosevelt made was to provide full support to Dr. William Crawford Gorgas. Gorgas' job was to rid of malaria from the Isthmus of Panama to reduce deaths, so the construction of the canal can take place. People were scared to go to Panama and work on this project.
The decision was not simple since Roosevelt believed that malaria was caused by garbage and filth, and not mosquitoes. When the cost of ridding tropical diseases went up significantly, the leadership team within the Isthmian Canal Commission wanted to replace Gorgas so they can allocate more resources toward engineering.
Roosevelt had to make a critical decision. So how did he make this decision?
1) He listened to Chief Engineer John Stevens, who sent a letter telling Roosevelt that the success of building the canal goes through Gorgas' work of reducing deaths from tropical diseases.
2) He listened to his friend Dr. William Henry Welch of Johns Hopkins, who told Roosevelt that he had the right guy on the project. And he also told Roosevelt Gorgas is correct about the mosquito theory for the cause of malaria.
3) He listened to his hunting buddy Dr. Alexander Lambert. Lambert told Roosevelt that give Gorgas his full-throated support if he wants a legacy of building the Panama Canal.
Roosevelt realized that Gorgas was critical to building the Panama Canal and told the Commission to get off his back and let him do his job. That is the high stakes President Trump and America face today. Pandemics can make or break global powers. We need someone like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of NIAID, to help us get through this health crisis. President Trump should learn from President Teddy Roosevelt to guide him through this crisis and Keep America Great.
Jay Oza is an author, speaker, executive coach. He makes people thrive on high stakes stage whether it's for a job interview, a sales presentation or a high-stakes speech. He is the author of the book Winning Speech Moments: How to Achieve Your Objective with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. Please download the speech checklist that you can use to help you with your next high stakes speech.
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