Forgetting Private Ryan


Forgetting Private Ryan

Let’s NOT forget Private Ryan. Or forget any of our greatest servant leaders!

This upcoming US holiday, Memorial Day weekend, when you’re enjoying your neighborhood bar-b-que or holiday getaway, will you take the time to honor our soldiers who have lost their lives serving our country? Will you reflect upon the soldiers in Iraq, and those stationed throughout the world,  who are so willing to make the ultimate sacrifice? They are sacrificing more than just a day off of work, or a friendly backyard get together. They are sacrificing their lives. 

Do you believe a soldier’s contribution portrays the ultimate example of servant leadship? Does a soldier provide a pure example of one who leads by serving others?

As Robert K. Greenleaf described in his essay, The Servant as Leader, “The servant leader is servant first . . . It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.”

One CNN report of United States statistics shows 4,297 Americans have lost their lives in the war in Iraq. This number is grim, but it doesn’t tell the  stories of sacrifice these soldiers made. It  doesn’t describe how they unselfishly led by example–how these servants lived, and and how they died.

Honor Our Eldest
An inspirational illustration of one leading through service is that of Army Maj. Steven Hutchison, who died May 10th, 2009, when a bomb exploded near his vehicle in the town of Al Farr. Maj. Hutchison was 60 years old–the oldest US soldier to die in Iraq. Maj. Hutchinson had wanted to re-enlist in the army immediately following 9/11. But at the request of his wife, Candy, he held off. After her death from breast cancer, he gave up his life of retirement, and in July of 2007, Steven Hutchison re-joined the army. His brother, Richard Hutchison, states, “He was very devoted to the service and to his country.”

Honor our Matrons
Another example of a soldier’s servant leadership is Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa. Pfc. Piestewa died March 23, 2003, after the Humvee she was driving was ambushed near Nasiriyah. Pfc. Piestewa tried unsuccessfully to hold off the attackers. She was a single mother, leaving behind a 4 year-old boy and 3 year-old girl, and is the first Native American woman to die in the line of US military duty. Pfc. Piestewa grew up following in the military tradition of her father and grandfather, who both served our country.

Honor our Youngest
The first US soldier to lose their life in Iraq was 22 year-old Marine Lance Corporal Jose Gutierrez. Corporal Gutierrez was killed near Umm Qasr on March 21, 2003. According to his foster mother, Nora Mosquera, Corporal Gutierrez joined the army because he not only wanted to earn money for college and to send to his sister in Guatemala, he wanted to give back to his adopted country. Corporal Gutirrez had lost both of his parents by the time he was 4, and grew up on the streets of Guatemala City. At the age of 14, determined to come to the United States, he hopped trains, hitchhiked and walked, in a quest for a better life.

In his article, “Be a Leader, Not a Follower”, Neel Ramen describes the qualities of a leader. He states,

“It means you live by example; you set personal goals and standards, and mark your place in the universe and stand by it so that others can be inspired to do the same.”

Are you living by example? Do you inspire those around you? Where will you mark your place in the universe? Are you living as a servant leader? Do you have a story about a soldier that you want to share?

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The Grit and Guts of Glory

Do you possess the courage it takes to be a great leader? Do you have the guts to succeed? Are you able to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds in today’s economic downturn, or merely surviving?

A prime example of courage was displayed this past Saturday in the 135th running of The Kentucky Derby. If you didn’t have the good fortune to witness this remarkable race, Mine That Bird overcame 50 to 1 odds to win. Squeezed out after exiting the gate, Mine that Bird and his jockey, Calvin Borel, found themselves running dead last. Summoning their collective courage, they glazed the inner rail, overtaking the pack. This team triumphed by 6 ¾ lengths–the largest margin since 1946.

The sports commentator summed up the event as  “ . . a spectacular, spectacular upset! An impossible result here!

How does this relate to your business?

You may have numerous degrees; attend, or lead the most recent power presentations; read the latest business journals.

But do you have possess the essential qualities of leadership: Courage, confidence, concentration, passion, values–and demonstrate them on a daily basis to your team?

Have you developed a Fearless Leadership System?  Or do you find yourself falling victim to negative economic forecasts–afraid to motivate your team to tackle new challenges, push them to succeed?

Courage can be coined in many different ways. The thesaurus translates courage to bravery, determination, enterprise, fortitude, grit, guts, spirit.  The next time you face your team, think about whether you’re modeling these qualities.

Do you have the grit and guts displayed so valiantly by Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel? Or are you a victim of the times? What are you doing today to make sure that you can get into the winner’s circle?

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Leslie Kohler is The Seminar Copywriter found at
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Words That Touch

How many of us can say that we have touched the lives of others?

Many of us facilitate programs designed to advance careers, enhance lifestyles, instill personal growth, improve lives. But how many of us have left an indelible mark on this world that has truly enhanced people’s lives in meaningful and tangible ways?

rachels-hands1On this 10th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School, I heard once again the story of Rachel Joy Scott.

She was the first of thirteen to be massacred on that horrific day. She was a kind soul who touched more lives during her seventeen years than most of us ever will.

One example of her kindness was her befriending of a special needs student who had been taunted by others at Columbine. So depressed, he had planned on committing suicide that day–the day an “angel” came into his life. Through Rachel’s kindness and compassion, he found a reason to live, and abandoned his suicidal thoughts.

After Rachel’s death, her family found her journals and writings, many of which have been compiled into the book, Rachel’s Tears. This book is the cornerstone for a training program called Rachel’s Challenge, which began as a way to teach compassion to young people, and has grown into a corporate training program.

The premise of Rachel’s Challenge is simple: That by being kind to others, you can create a chain reaction of kindness and compassion.

This philosophy is taught to organizations to help the members grow both as a collaborative group and as individuals. The trainings strive to create a cultural shift that will result in an energized, more compassionate workplace. Rachel’s Challenge believes that a company is not just a place to work, but a community for its employees to work within.

Another piece of writing Rachel’s family discovered after her death was an outline of her hands on the back of an old dresser in her home. Within it she scripted, “These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people’s hearts.” And they did.

How many lives did your words touch today? Are your words touching people in a positive and uplifting way? Or are your words impacting others in other ways? How are your words leading others?

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