Prior to this year what I knew about the battle of Gettysburg you could put on the head of a pin. I did know that it occurred during the Civil War and it was some sort of key battle. I knew that Lincoln delivered the famous Gettysburg address from Gettysburg during the war. I knew that the Union forces won. But there are so many significant stories as a result of the bloodiest battle ever on American soil.
I had the good fortune to attend a 1 ½ day leadership learning opportunity last week. http://www.lincolnleadershipinstitute.com/. Steve Wiley is one of the highest-octane and energetic speakers you will ever hear and together with his associate Angela Sontheimer, the metaphorical lessons of good (and not so good) leadership are explored around the events of July 1-3 1863.
Surely you are familiar with General Robert E. Lee the leader of the Army of Northern Virginia. But I venture a guess that unless you are some sort of Civil War historian or buff (it seems to me that there are a good many people that are) you would not know the story of Col. Joshua Chamberlain leader and hero of the 5th Maine regiment. Nor did I know anything about other essential figures involved in this pivotal battle of the Civil War – a battle that can be argued changed the face of American and world history. Generals James Buford, James Longstreet, John Reynolds (why do all their names start with the letter ‘J’ I wonder?), are just some of the key players. Perhaps you have heard of the battle of Little Round Top, or Pickett’s charge – perhaps not.
There were more than 51,000 casualties as a result of this battle – many of them in intense hand to hand combat. The courage displayed by so many makes me proud to be an American. The decisions both good and bad teach so much about effective communication and listening to those around you.
Michael Shaara’s great book ‘The Killer Angels’ is a wonderful depiction of the battle of Gettysburg. For those more inclined to watch than to read – the TNT mini-series/movie (4 ½ hours) entitled ‘Gettysburg’ is a fair and true representation of Shaara’s book.
As Gettysburg readies to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the epic battle in 2013 I highly recommend you take time to learn more about what was a seminal battle in American history. It represents a time before electricity, computers, cars, airplanes. You can learn so much – my wife and I did. And keep in mind one of Steve’s quotes that I have been hearkening back to – ‘Listen until it hurts’. So many of us want to show how smart we are and as a result we don’t really listen. Joshua Chamberlain really listened to those around him – and it can be argued that was the reason the North won the battle of Gettysburg.