ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- Former LSU Coach Dale Brown, former Director of the FBI Louis Freeh and Paralympic gold medalist Lt. Brad Snyder were three of the key leaders sharing their knowledge and experience with midshipmen and college students from around the nation during leadership seminars this week at the Naval Academy.
Brown spoke on the importance of moral courage in both leadership and life.
"We are desperately in need of great leaders because they fill you with hope and trust and shower you with a thousand reasons to embrace all aspects of life," he said. "The ultimate measure of all of us is going to be when we stand up in moments when we're uncomfortable and stand for what's right."
Brown talked about what he called the four hurdles of life that everyone must jump over to be successful and fulfilled: overcoming being told you can't do something, allowing failure to keep you from trying, mental or physical handicaps that everyone must face at some point in life, and knowing who you truly are what you want from your life.
"You have got to successfully jump over these four hurdles and if you do, and you're courageous during this time, you'll ... find success, peace, happiness and love," he said.
Overcoming hurdles to achieve success is a concept familiar to Snyder, a 2006 Naval Academy graduate who was blinded by an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2011. In December 2012 he competed in the Paralympics in London, winning two gold and one silver medal.
The mentality that helped him cope with his blindness is the same as what helped him get through the stresses of school, training and working in Afganistan: take everything one step at a time and don't allow cynicism to take over.
"Cynicism is a beast that you've got to battle," he said. "The overwhelming majority of days I wake up, and I'm excited to start that day. It's because I've established that mentality that every day is a new opportunity to succeed."
The pressure to succeed never goes away. The important thing is to "look at things in a positive light and move forward one step at a time," he said. "Hour by hour if you need to."
Snyder also stressed the idea of compassionate leadership and taking care of your people, while Freeh emphasized the importance of trustworthiness and the importance of sometimes saying no.
Freeh told the story of how Grant admired Gen. Robert Lee and assured him at his surrender at Appomattox that he would not be tried for treason. Later, when the administration pursued charges of treason against Lee, Grant put his own career on the line, insisting he would resign as general of the Army unless the trial was dismissed.
Freeh described that Grant's "quiet moment of greatness."
"Saying no is a big part of leadership," said Freeh. "You've got to exercise decision making that looks at the larger good and the larger values of institutions that are based on trustworthiness."
Other speakers during the week included Susan Chambers, executive vice president of the Global Peoples Division at Walmart, Inc. and Ronald Spears, senior executive vice president of executive operations at AT&T.
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