Sully Sullenberger has a new book out, “Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage From America’s Leaders.” To gather material for the book, Sully spoke to leaders from diverse walks of life about the qualities, characteristics, and intentions of effective leaders and agents of change. His own intention, Sully says, is to remind us that we all can be leaders through our actions, no matter who we are or what we do in life.
I totally agree. I also believe that when one person leads through his or her actions in a profound way, it opens the door for, and encourages, others in their direct orbit to bring forward their own leadership abilities and inclinations. That’s how it has worked for Dave Sanderson. Dave is one of the surviving passengers of the Miracle on the Hudson featured in the book that I co-authored, “Brace for Impact: Miracle on the Hudson Survivors Share Their Stories of Near Death and Hope for New Life.” (http://braceforimpact.hcibooks.com) With every breath he takes, Dave knows that Sully’s brilliant leadership and stunning precision in landing US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson gave him a chance to live. Sully’s feat also paved the way for dozens of passengers like Dave to demonstrate their own leadership, resourcefulness, and teamwork in working together to get out of that plane and onto rescue boats alive – with not a single casualty, thanks to the efforts of those ferry boat operators, first responders, Red Cross personnel and many more.
Dave Sanderson risked his own health and safety by remaining onboard near the vulnerable rear of the plane until others had safely climbed onto the plane’s life rafts and water-covered wings. A night in the hospital with severe hypothermia from standing in waist-deep frigid water was a small price to pay. From his experience, a new life mission was born for Dave: to become a public speaker to share what happened to him through the Miracle on the Hudson, what he learned from it, and what we all can gain from recognizing that we indeed can become leaders in our own lives while serving the public good.
Dave has presented hundreds of talks to diverse audiences all over the country, including many fund-raising appearances for the Red Cross. He’s done it all while maintaining his primary job as well. He’s touched women and men of all ages who hear him, and many of them have in turn touched Dave with their own stories about courageous and dedicated acts to lead and serve others. It’s the ripple effect of the Miracle on the Hudson that we discuss in “Brace for Impact.” Sully Sullenberger is the catalyst, and his latest book and talks remind us that those ripples can reach every one of us.
- Kevin Quirk, Co-author of “Brace for Impact: Miracle on the Hudson Survivors Share Their Stories of Near Death and Hope for New Life” and author of “Your Life Is a Book – And It’s Time to Write It!”