Introduction: Why Our Social Drives Matter More Now—Multipliers

Continuous effort—not strength or intelligence—is the key to unlocking our potential.

—Winston Churchill

On February 21, 2003, Liu Jianlun, a Chinese doctor, attended a wedding in Hong Kong, during which he stayed at the Metropole Hotel in room 911. Within 24 hours, he was admitted to an intensive care unit. On the following day, a Chinese-American businessman, Johnny Chen, who had stayed at the Metropole across the hall from Liu, traveled on to Hanoi, Vietnam. He became ill and was admitted to the French Hospital of Hanoi where he was treated by Dr. Carlo Urbani. Jianlun died on March 4. Chen died on March 13. And Dr. Urbani died on March 29. Chen was patient zero for the SARS pandemic.1

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, originated with a farmer in the Guangdong province of China, and its worldwide spread was set in motion in a matter of a few days on the ninth floor of that hotel in Hong Kong. SARS is a very serious form of pneumonia, which can lead to acute respiratory distress, severe breathing difficulty, and sometimes death. If you're like me, you hear that phrase, scratch your head and eventually think, Oh yeah, that virus from about 10 years ago! SARS broke out in 2003, and the word “pandemic” suddenly became part of our collective vocabulary. SARS quickly spread across the globe. I remember feeling a growing anxiety as each day passed and the headlines of doom screamed louder and louder.

Dr. ...

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