My Day on the Gettysburg Battlefield

Life-altering leadership lessons with General Mark Hertling

Last week I was invited to accompany Lt. General Mark Hertling on a staff ride to Gettysburg leaving the following day.  Rearranging my life on such short notice didn’t allow much time to ponder the experience.  In retrospect, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to encounter. 

We alternated between the view of the battle from the Union side, then traveling to another location to look at it from the Confederate point of view.  Our brilliant guide set the stage vividly and presented the options the leaders faced asking “What would you do?”.  There was never an easy answer.


Throughout the day, stop after stop, over and over, I couldn’t help but think about all those times when I’ve had a critical opinion about leadership choices I’ve observed without having all the facts.  I thought about all those times when my own self-righteousness has destroyed my ability to see another point of view. I thought about all those times when I’ve sold out on my own values under pressure.  I thought about all those times when I failed to speak truth to power without regard for the impact it might have had on others.  I thought about what it was like for the people in my past who had to lead me and how difficult I’d been.


Ultimately, I couldn’t escape the profound impact of standing on that sacred ground with the knowledge that 51,000 young men gave their lives during that three days and 620,000 died during the Civil War. 42 million Americans have served in time of war and 1.2 million have lost their lives doing so. 


We enjoy the freedom to express our opinions and points of view – to have our voices heard.  In honor of their sacrifice, perhaps it’s time for us to find ways to do that respectfully.


Allinium CEO & Founder

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