Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Two weeks ago I wrote from California; this morning I write from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I'm at this historic holy ground to learn more about transformational leadership and the incredible impact it can have on an organization and individuals. Our days have been saturated with debate regarding leadership during the Battle of Gettysburg; my focus is here this week. 

I have limited time to write, but I do want to share with you my favorite character I've learned about through preparation of this week: Col. Joshua Chamberlain. 

The day before the biggest battle of the Civil War, Col. Chamberlain inherited 120 men who had no where else to go. The soldiers, who felt such a strong sense of alienation, were tired, disrespected, nearly starved and terribly worn. Chamberlain desperately needed these men to join his team. But they absolutely no desire to continue to fight when treated poorly by leadership who did not understand them. 

Off the cuff, Chamberlain gave the following speech, which I believe changed the entire direction of the Civil War. His words, built on unity, shared values and belonging, inspired a group who seemed to be too far gone. 
They went on to prove their worth on Little Round Top. 
The Union went on to win the Civil War. 

“I’ve been ordered to take you men with me, I’m told that if you don’t come I can shoot you. Well, you know I won’t do that. Maybe somebody else will, but I won’t, so that’s that.
Here’s the situation: The whole Reb army is up that road aways waiting for us, so this is no time for an argument like this, I tell you. We could surely use you fellas, we’re now well below half strength.
Whether you fight or not, that’s up to you. Whether you come along is is…well, you're coming.
You know who we are and what we are doing here, but if you are going to fight alongside us there are a few things I want you to know.
This regiment was formed last summer, in Maine.
There were 1,000 of us then, there are less than 300 of us now.
All of us volunteered to fight for the Union, just as you have.
Some came mainly because we were bored at home, thought this looked like it might be fun.
Some came because we were ashamed not to.
Many of came because it was the right thing to do.
And all of us have seen men die.
This is a different kind of army.
If you look back through history you will see men fighting for pay, for women, for some other kind of loot.
They fight for land, power, because a king leads them, or just because they like killing.
But we are here for something new, this has not happened much, in the history of the world.
We are an army out to set other men free.
America should be free ground, all of it, not divided by a line between slave states and free – all the way from here to the Pacific Ocean.
No man has to bow. No man born to royalty.
Here we judge you by what you do, not by who your father was.
Here you can be something.
Here is the place to build a home.
But it’s not the land, there’s always more land.
It’s the idea that we all have value – you and me.
What we are fighting for, in the end, we’re fighting for each other.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to preach.
You go ahead and you talk for awhile.
If you choose to join us and you want your muskets back you can have them – nothing more will be said by anyone anywhere.
If you choose not to join us well then you can come along under guard and when this is all over I will do what I can to ensure you get a fair trial, but for now we’re moving out.
Gentlemen, I think if we lose this fight we lose the war, so if you choose to join us I will be personally very grateful."

Words are immeasurably powerful.
They can break or build. 
And at then end of the day, everyone just needs to know that they have value

The guy at the gas station. 
The gal at the counter. 
The teacher who needs to hear it. 
The one who cleans up the table after your crew. 
The annoying friend. 
The supportive neighbor. 
Your husband. 
Your wife. 
Your hired help. 

Each have value.
What are you doing today to ensure they know it? 

1 comment:

  1. I always look forward to Wednesday. You have a way of finding content and relating it to life better than anyone I have ever read! Wonderful!