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Gettysburg Address: A Reaffirmation of a Founding Principle of the United States

A painting of Abraham Lincoln giving his Gettysburg Address by J. L. G. Ferris (c. 1900) Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address wass a reaffirmation of a founding principle of the United States: that all humans are born equal.

The Battle of Gettysburg took place during July 1–3, 1863, and resulted in the retreat of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia from its incursion into Union territory. On November 19, months after the battle, President Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) attended a ceremony dedicating a national cemetery at the Gettysburg battlefield site. The Gettysburg Address is the speech he gave to the assembled crowd at the ceremony, and it is widely celebrated as one of the most important and influential political speeches in the history of the United States. Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address,

… wehere highly resolve that these dead shall not havedied in vain- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom- and that government of the people, by the people, for thepeople, shall not perish from the earth.

When President Lincoln delivered his address, he was second on the bill to Edward Everett (1794–1865), a famed orator who gave a two-hour-long speech to the assembled crowd. Lincoln’s speech was incomparably shorter, lasting no longer than two to three minutes, and encompassing about 250 words. Yet in that speech, the president reflected the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence (1776), the founding document of the American nation. His simple, eloquent expression of the notion that the nation was founded for equality, and for the good of all people, not once referred to slavery, the Confederacy, the Union, or any of the political issues of the day.

It is unclear what the reaction to Lincoln’s speech was at the time, after less than two years after giving it the president was dead and the civil war over. However, the impact of the Gettysburg Address lived on as a model of political rhetoric, oratorical simplicity, and political ideology. The speech turned the nation’s political attention toward the unifying ideal that all people are born equal—an ideal that is almost universally assumed today.

The Gettysburg Address is credited as being largely responsible for the introduction of that ideal into U.S. political discourse, and it remains an important political reference point today.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

When Ronald Reagan forgot about his adapted son Michael Reagan

In 1945, President Ronald Reagan and his first wife, the actress Jane Wyman adopted a son Michael E. Reagan. His adoption was not a happy one and he is now estranged from his family.

'Reagan: The Life' by H.W. Brands (ISBN 0385536399) ‘Reagan: The Life’ by H.W. Brands recalls Michael Raegan’s story, who as a child was “neglected as those of any famous parent. Invited to speak at his adopted son Michael’s boarding school, Reagan failed to recognise his boy under a mortar board. ‘My name is Ronald Reagan. What’s yours?’ he said. ‘Remember me?’ came the sad reply: ‘I’m your son Mike.'”

In 1964 Ronald Reagan was the commencement speaker at an exclusive preparatory school outside Scottsdale, Arizona. He was standing with several of the graduating seniors, who were invited to pose for pictures with him. He chatted to each of the graduates in turn, and to one of the boys said: “My name is Ronald Reagan. What’s yours?” The boy said, “I’m your son, Mike.” “Oh,” said Reagan. “I didn’t recognize you.”

Reagan and his first wife Wyman divorced in 1952. Michael Reagan was born in Los Angeles to Irene Flaugher, an unmarried woman from Kentucky who became pregnant through a relationship with U.S. Army corporal John Bourgholtzer. Michael Reagan is a conservative radio host and strategist for the American Republican party.

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Posted in Leaders and Innovators Mental Models and Psychology

Christopher Hitchens Calls Obama Is a Megalomaniacal Narcissist

On June 3rd, 2008, at the final primary night in St. Paul, Minnesota, Barack Obama gave a nomination victory speech (transcript is here.) He concluded:

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

In response, the famous political commentator, author, and polemicist Christopher Hitchens cogent point about Obama’s subtle megalomania. On a TV program, Hitchens remarked,

not a single memorable phrase in it … time isn’t going to make people not remember a word Obama said in Philadelphia … most boring speech ever made … [saying] this will be the moment we will look back on as when the oceans started raising … so just by getting the delegate card, he has arrested the climate crisis and no one thinks it is funny except me … this is a megalomaniacal narcissist …

Megalomania is commonly understood as a mental behavior characterized by an excessive desire for power and glory and by illusory feelings of omnipotence. Megalomania is an obsession with the exercise of power, especially in the domination of others. Megalomania involves delusions of grandeur, folie de grandeur, thirst for power, self-importance, egotism, conceit, and conceitedness.

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Posted in Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

Best Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt Biographies

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Posted in Leaders and Innovators

Make connections with People by Applying President Reagan’s Three Simple Principles

President Ronald Reagan - Great Communicator

Ronald Reagan’s Chief Strategist Dick Wirthlin walked into the Oval Office and found President Reagan at his desk holding a photograph.

“Mr. President, what’s that?”

“Well, Dick, I just got off the phone with this young man.”

As the President turned the photograph around, Dick winced at the haunting image staring him in the face. It was the picture of a 12-year-old boy who had been severely burned while attempting to rescue his two younger brothers when their family’s trailer caught fire. While frantically searching through the flaming trailer, the young man sustained severe burns before carrying his siblings to safety. As a result, the boy’s face and body had been seriously scarred and disfigured.

“I called this little fella to see how he was doing and to tell him how proud I was of his heroism,” Reagan said.

He then looked back down at the little boy’s visage. “Dick, at the end of our conversation the youngster said, ‘President Reagan, I sure wish I would have had my tape recorder on so I could remember our call together.’

So I said, ‘Do you have it there?’ He said he did. So I told him, ‘Well, son, turn it on and let’s chat some more.”

Did you catch that? “Let’s chat some more.” This is the language of leadership. These aren’t the words of a great communicator. These are the words of one of the greatest communicators.

Three Core Lessons

Ronald Reagan taught us three core lessons that all leaders must embrace.

Lesson 1: Issues Change, Values Endure

'Ronald Reagan: Life Changing Lessons!' by William Wyatt (ISBN B00HRLDLHO) Ronald Reagan believed values are the lynchpins of effective persuasion. The reason: while issues change, values endure.

New challenges emerge—sometimes daily. This constant state of flux can create uncertainty about how the leader will respond. If, however, he or she is guided by a core set of beliefs that have been articulated consistently, you can know the direction your leader’s decision making “compass” is likely to point. By knowing a leader’s values, you know where they will lead, regardless of shifting circumstances.

This assumes, of course, that the leader has identified his or her guiding values and embedded them in their communications. While this requires thought, the rewards can be immense.

When it was time to devise his 1980 acceptance address for the Republican National Convention, Reagan designed his speech around three value-laden institutions and two core values: family, work, neighborhood, peace, and freedom.

Once Reagan was finished, the nation had a firm grasp of who Reagan was and where he wanted to lead.

Ronald Reagan Spokesman for General Electric

Lesson 2: Persuade through Reason, Motivate through Emotion

'An American Life: The Autobiography' by Ronald Reagan (ISBN 145162073X) You can persuade through reason, but you motivate through emotion. How? By doing what Ronald Reagan did best: using stories to showcase values and frame his vision.

Even during his days as a radio sports announcer and spokesperson for General Electric, Ronald Reagan always loaded his speeches with stories that illustrated his values. He was never the focal point of the stories. Instead, he told stories that exemplified his values while elevating the importance of others and their contributions. This leadership trait was summarized in the placard on his desk: “There’s no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”

Reagan believed that sincere emotion was the spark that ignites the fuse of action. Many leaders feel uncomfortable infusing emotion into their communications, but ignoring this element is a mistake. People don’t just want to make intellectual connections; they want to experience emotional ones as well. To be sure, leaders can go overboard in their use of emotion by banging the drum of values too forcefully. But the greater danger is to appeal only to the mind and to ignore the heart. Ronald Reagan knew how to balance the two.

Ronald Reagan Debate with Walter Mondale

Lesson 3: Humor Makes a Human Connection

'Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader' by Dinesh D'Souza (ISBN 0684848236) Ronald Reagan loved to laugh and tell jokes. It revealed his core love of people, and he used it to build bridges between people, even those with whom he disagreed. Still, his use of humor was often strategic.

Take, for example, Reagan’s second debate with Walter Mondale. After their first debate, some questioned whether Reagan was too old to serve a second term. When the question about his age came up, Reagan delivered one of the most famous lines in presidential debate history: “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

The line was a masterstroke, and it was all his own. Reagan had displayed self-deprecation and supreme confidence while defusing a divisive issue.

The Greatest Communicator has now exited the stage. Yet in his passing he has left behind a legacy of leadership. Americans rate Ronald Reagan as the greatest president in American history. But while politics was one of Reagan’s passions, it was not his greatest passion. This he reserved for people.

Reagan took time out of his day to invest in people and make them feel special. You can do the same.

Recommended Reading: Ronald Reagan

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Posted in Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

FDR and the Four Freedoms

Franklin Delano RooseveltIn his State of the Union address to Congress on 6-Jan-1941, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asserted ‘four essential human freedoms’ in the following canonical form:

  1. Freedom of speech and expression
  2. Freedom of every person to worship God in his own way
  3. Freedom from want
  4. Freedom from fear

They are usually cited in abbreviated form as freedom of speech and of religion, and freedom from want and from fear.

During the Second World War, FDR’s Four Freedoms was commonly considered as a succinct statement of the aims of the Allies, notwithstanding prominent failures to accomplish these ‘freedoms’ among the Allies.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Four Freedoms are a succinct anticipation of what would later become the various ‘human rights’ asserted by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948. This declaration was the result of the experience of the Second World War.

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Posted in Global Business Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Remember these words of Theodore Roosevelt the next time your criticize

Theodore Roosevelt

Being critical and appreciative are two distinct acts. Most people can criticize freely—behind a person’s back, as long as they are not facing the person under scrutiny. That is because looking another person in the eye and spelling out her limitations is a tall order for many. Criticism is not essential neither not easy.

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

Separate judgment from criticism. If you don’t appreciate other’s work, appreciate their context, empathize with their circumstances, identify yourself with them, you can’t see the efforts of others, and your mind becomes very small. Each time you employ your qualities of generosity, patience, equanimity, and compassion, you can make your mind bigger, your heat broader, and convince yourself of your own good self.

'The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt' by Edmund Morris (ISBN 1400069653) Recommended Book: ‘The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt’ is Pulitzer Prize-winning biography by Edmund Morris. Morris’s masterful volume chronicles the life of this mercurial, multifaceted, and paradoxical man who became the 26th President of the United States. Morris’s inspiring and educating book describes how one of America’s most respected men and champion of progressive reform was mostly self-educated, yet graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1880. The young Roosevelt eschewed the traditional, genteel, upper-class lifestyle of his wealthy family in favor of the rough-and-tumble of New York politics.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom