This week’s focus point…Serendipity
I was in Washington D.C. last week for a conference of consulting colleagues. As a history geek, I spent one morning prior to the conference taking a walk on a beautiful morning to see the White House and other sites. In addition, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom and there only for a short time, so I wanted to make sure I saw them. My colleague Noah joined me and as we were at the White House, I noticed the flags were at half staff. Upon asking why, I was reminded that this particular day, April 15th, was the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. We decided to go to the Lincoln Memorial on this special day.
It’s a bit of a hike past the cherry blossoms, the Washington Monument, and the reflection pool to get up the steps of this national treasure. It was worth it. There was a gorgeous sunrise peeking up over the Washington Monument and I snapped it a picture and text it to my wife and daughters. Noah and I felt honored to have been here on this unique day. But there was more. At the airport later in the week, I read one of the articles written 150 years ago about the assassination and Lincoln’s death. At the conclusion of the article, the writer noted the time of death at 7:22 am (he was shot the evening of April 14th, and succumbed the next morning). I quickly checked the time of my text to and realized we had been there EXACTLY at the Lincoln Memorial on the time he passed 150 years prior! Serendipity.
While this seems like a small bit of luck that has nothing to do with anything but irony and fortune, I tend to view it differently. That bit of serendipity required many decisions that made it possible – from the decision to go sight seeing, to altering the plans to walk farther than planned, to turning around to take in a sunrise and send it on to my family. Like that old saying goes, you make your own luck.
The decisions you make today will create opportunities for similar serendipity in your life. Don’t just chalk it up to being in the right place in the right time. Your mindset must be that you control your own fate and making bold decisions will ultimately lead you to rewards that others will surmise as lucky. However, you will know better, won’t you?
© 2015 Toro Consulting Inc. All Rights Reserved
This week’s quote –
“The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of malcontents.”
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On this day, one hundred and forty-seven years ago, Abraham Lincoln gave a 2 and a half-minute speech that has stood the test of time to be considered arguably the greatest American speech of all time. In Gettysburg, PA, President Lincoln followed a 2 hour speech by Edward Everett. Everett later wrote Lincoln and said, “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in 2 hours as you did in 2 minutes.”
Length doesn’t matter. Words do.
Lincoln understood the moment, gravity, and passion of the situation. Though the war was far from over, Gettysburg was a turning point as the Union repulsed General Lee’s army for the first time. The carnage of the three days of battle was unfathomable. Lincoln’s task was to inspire a country. When he was finished, he sat down thinking the silence around him implied he was a failure. Rather, it was sheer awe.
Lincoln’s legendary speech should be a model for all of us who in business or in life get up to speak. It’s not the length of the speech that matters most. It’s the combination of the right words, at the right time, spoken with great passion that matters most.
Read the “Seven score and seven-year anniversary” blog post with images by the Washington Post.
Note – this is the only known photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg. His speech was so short and he got up and down so fast, that the camera man couldn’t get a better photo! Imagine that happening today.
© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
November 19, 1863 – Gettysburg, PA. 145 years ago, Abraham Lincoln gave perhaps the greatest two and a half minute speech ever…
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
“We are met on a great battlefield…to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live…But…we cannot dedicate…this ground.
The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it.”
“It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced…That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure.”
“That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”