Living Up to This Moment


“The name on the front of the jersey is a hell of a lot more important than the name on the back.”

– Herb Brooks

This quote by the 1980 Olympic hockey coach is a sentiment we seem to have lost in our country – or at least temporarily misplaced. We seem to have lost our way, the pride of being American somehow lost in the division sown over decades and inflamed in recent years. The events of Jan. 6 in our nation’s capital left me disappointed with myself, our government, and our country.

While I believe our country has the potential to be great, we are far from that place, and I am embarrassed that I have not done more to speak up. I have been careful and measured with sharing my opinions, concerned that expressing my authentic thoughts could potentially damage my business – and perhaps it could. But that is the price of leadership. Not expressing my thoughts about one of the most divisive eras in American history is not leading.

One of the five dysfunctions of a team, as written by Patrick Lencioni in his book of the same name, is inattention to results, when the attention is instead given to status and ego. It occurred to me, after those Jan. 6 events, that my remaining silent all these months had a lot to do with me not wanting to adversely affect my status.

But what about the status of those less fortunate, who have been irreparably damaged by a system mired in inequality and an administration that at times seemed to have little or no respect for anyone but those who fed the president’s ego, status, and wealth.

We are not out of the woods with the change in administrations, but our new leader is hopefully a small step in the direction we need to go. I am hopeful that he will be able to unify the country in ways his predecessor wouldn’t, but am also fearful that his moderate approach will maintain the status quo… as does mine.

I am not sure that I am ready for living up to this moment and doing what is necessary to make this country great – ensuring that everyone I meet truly has the opportunity to maximize their potential. But I believe I’m ready to try, because I need to model inclusive leadership. It’s not about keeping the peace; it’s about inspiring people – all people – to achieve their individual greatness and contribute to the greatness of the whole. It is, as Coach Brooks would say, about finding the pride on the front of the jersey.

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  1. Mae Carter on February 2, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I appreciate you being transparent about the risk that you could be facing. Great leadership starts with all of us.

  2. Sarah Mastrangelo on February 2, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    Great perspective and vulnerability, thanks for sharing.

  3. Paul Benequista on February 2, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    You have not been honest because of money. I am very disappointed in you because I thought you were honest and placed personal gain over honesty. Sham on you and us for thinking you were honest. I am honest. I think you are wrong. Very wrong that the new people will change the course of this country. I no longer want to be on your distribution.

    • Sharon M Akkoul on February 2, 2021 at 2:55 pm

      Paul, May I offer that it takes courage to recognize one’s need to change, and actually act to embrace that change? I have followed Emergent for quite some time and do find them to be honest. It might have been easier for Ralph to not write this post, and then perhaps just make personal changes, or not. Instead, he offered to be transparent with us, this community, in the hope that in so doing he might inspire us to look within ourselves for opportunities to muster courage, embrace change, and even risk taking action. Often, especially in business, we try to do the “polite” thing. Perhaps Ralph is challenging all of us to look beyond the comfort and cover of “politeness” and take the risks required to be our fullest and most authentic selves. For many of us it takes time, patience, and courage, to come to this fork in the road.

    • Chuck Simone on March 16, 2021 at 12:28 am

      I believe if you have a problem with transparency and truth, my brother would be better off without your distribution. My brother is one of the most honest individuals ii have ever met. And he’s fair. An insurrection undermining our constitution in an effort to overturn the results of the most secure elections our nation ever held is both appalling and desperate. Trump put the lives of Republicans and Democrats in danger, including his loyal Vice President. Based on a lie. He lost and hopefully the Biden administration can and I believe is already putting us back on the right track. I am on the side of truth and transparency as is my brother.

  4. Sharon M Akkoul on February 2, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Ralph, Thank you for your courage and leadership! You are so right — “It’s not about keeping the peace; it’s about inspiring people – all people – to achieve their individual greatness and contribute to the greatness of the whole.” We are all challenged to meet this moment. The first step is recognizing the need to act, followed closely by a willingness to try and to take some action, no matter how small. Thank you for your inspiration!

  5. Jesse Leal on February 2, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    It takes great courage to step out from behind the curtain of self-protection and expose what is really in our hearts and minds. Sometimes we must speak up and be true to our beliefs, conscience, and our country. If we, that strive to epitomize what this country can be, don’t speak up, we will never advance. Ralph, you have inspired me to go out and do the same.

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