3 Lessons from the Star Spangled Banner

The History Behind the Star Spangled Banner

 

The year was 1814. The United States and the United Kingdom were at war.

In mid-September, the British began to attack the city of Baltimore. Guarding the city, Fort McHenry came under heavy fire from warships in the harbor. Only a week prior, Francis Scott Key had learned of the impending attack while on a British ship. Because of his knowledge, the British blocked him from leaving his ship.

That’s why Francis was on his ship that night, watching the sky light up. Shells weighing up to 200 pounds fell on the fort at an alarming rate nearly every minute. The attack was so extensive and continual that the outcome of a British victory seemed certain.

But early on the morning of September 14th, Key saw the American flag signaling the American win. That flag was 42 feet across and flew proudly over the Fort.

You know what happened.

He penned the words that would become the national anthem of the United States of America, The Star Spangled Banner, though the initial title was the Defence of Fort McHenry. The song had four verses, but we only sing one.

 

The Star Spangled Banner

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

 

3 Lessons for Leaders from the Star Spangled Banner

When I reflect on these events, I think of three lessons:

Preparation is the key to winning. Major General Samuel Smith showed a fierce determination to defend Baltimore. His extensive preparations were vitally important to assure the American victory.

 

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Redesign Your Life

 

Everything Can Be Redesigned

What do you think of when you think of design?

You may think about one of those designer shows on TV that completely redecorates a living space. Perhaps you think of designing consumer products with packaging that enhances a brand. I think of Steve Jobs and his famous quote: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” –Steve Jobs

 

“Design is how it works.” –Steve Jobs

 

Design isn’t just for products. It’s also for lives. Designing a life that serves others is a worthy goal.

And, if something isn’t serving us well, we can redesign it and everything changes.

BJ Miller has a unique perspective on redesign that caught my attention. He wants to redesign dying. As a palliative care physician and long term patient, his ideas are both personal and professional. His story is compelling. While climbing a commuter train with some buddies in college, he was electrocuted, severely burned, and lost three limbs. Today, he specializes in end-of-life care at the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco. His purpose is to serve others by helping them die with dignity and grace, with no regrets or undue suffering.

 

“Design is a solution to a problem. Art is a question to a problem.” –John Maeda

 

Hospitals were not designed as a place to live and die. Healthcare providers mean well, but when someone dies in a sterile hospital setting among the beeping of the background noise and the bright fluorescent lights, the body is wheeled away, and there remains a numbness. It feels like the world should stop for a moment because a life was lost, but instead the room is quickly prepped for the next patient.

 

“We have a monumental opportunity before us…to redesign how it is we die.” –BJ Miller

 

With planning, end of life can bring us closer through compassion. There is not a magic reset button for end of life; there are no do-overs. In this TED Talk, B.J. Miller lays out real life examples of human connection through our senses. When one of the residents dies at the Zen Hospice Project, the body is wheeled through the garden. Songs and stories are shared while flower petals are placed on the body. Mourning is guided in with warmth.

It’s a beautiful redesign of the inevitable.

 

“Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” -Jeffrey Zeldman

 

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Review Your Goals and Start Your Own Redesign Plan

The approach reminded me that any aspect of life could be redesigned.

No matter what area of your life needs redesigning, you have the incredible opportunity to start again. It doesn’t even have to be major. There are times when acting on the small things makes all the difference. Here’s to your redesign plan!

 

“Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.” –Brian Reed

 

Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want

Get the Life You Want

Do you have big goals, a plan of action, and the confidence you will achieve your dreams?

Do you daydream about success but don’t really think it’s possible for you?

Do you want to change a wish into a plan?

This week, my wife and I purchased a car. We spent hours researching models, checking safety features, and reading online reviews. After multiple test drives and visits to various dealerships, we finally settled on one she wanted. Then we spent hours more buying it and still more hours learning its various features.

 

“You get what you focus on.” –Daniel Harkavy

 

That’s the way it is when we make a big purchase. I’m sure it’s the same in your home. We do this when planning vacations, too, right? Reading online reviews, choosing hotels, and carefully picking flights or planning a drive. If you’re at the stage where you have a teenager picking a university, you may be experiencing the dizzying array of possibilities. All of it requires time, attention, and careful planning. Whether college, a car, a vacation, or a family event like a wedding, we take the time needed to plan it all out so that we have a memorable experience.

So let me ask you a question.

Do you spend that type of time planning your life?

It seems that many of us go through our lives, accepting what comes, and just “going with the flow.”

What if there was a better way?

 

“People lose their way when they lose their why.” –Michael Hyatt

 

Michael Hyatt has just written a book with Daniel Harkavy that will help you design the life you want.

Living ForwardMichael is the CEO of Intentional Leadership, an online leadership development company. He is the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and also the NYT bestselling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. You may have heard his popular This is Your Life podcast.

Michael also is a close personal friend. He encouraged me to join Twitter and start blogging. I’ve watched him grow his business, but more importantly I’ve watched how he lives his life.

Which is why I am confident you will enjoy his newest book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want. Though I don’t know his co-author, Daniel Harkavy, I know he was Michael’s coach. His company, Building Champions, has helped many people get on track to accomplish their goals.

I recently asked Michael a few questions about the new book.

 

Design Your Life

What is a life plan?

A life plan is a brief document where you establish your personal priorities and articulate the steps you need to get from where you currently are to where you want to be. It’s a living document that you write yourself that gives you a view of your life.

 

“The man without purpose is like a ship without a rudder.” –Thomas Carlyle

 

Tell us about your own experience with Life Planning.

Daniel introduced it to me when he was my coach in the early 2000s. Before I created a Life Plan, I spent way too much time at work. That was one area where I did plan, where I was intentional, but I was really drifting in other areas of my life, including my health, family, community life, and everything else that is truly important to me. Life Planning has been transformational for me.

 

“There is no such thing as a compartmentalized life.” –Michael Hyatt

 

Begin With the End in Mind

Improve Your Management Skills in One Minute

Management Minutes

 

Looking for meaning in your work?

Need to find new ways to adapt?

Are you managing a team and need some tips?

Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson are two of my very favorite authors. Years ago, they teamed up to write the #1 bestseller The One Minute Manager. It has sold millions and millions of copies. They have just released The New One Minute Manager. Like the first version, it is a powerful, easily read story with easily digestible lessons for managers. Recently, I spoke with Ken about the new book.

 

“The best minute I spend is the one I invest in people.” -Blanchard/Johnson

 

Making the Complex Simple

One Minute ManagerWhy do you think The New One Minute Manager became such a worldwide bestseller?

The original book was such a ridiculous success—it spent over two years on the New York Times bestseller list—that I knew I couldn’t take full credit for it. I think it was the right book at the right time. Before The One Minute Manager, business books tended to be rather long and dry. My coauthor, Spencer Johnson, was a children’s book writer; I’d been a college professor but had never been a fan of overly complicated writing. Our goal was to take a complex subject—management—and present some simple solutions that worked. People all over the world responded to the way we did that.

 

Leadership Tip: Catch people doing something right.

 

From Top-Down to Side-by-Side

Why a “NEW” version?

A couple of years ago our publisher came to us wanting to release an e-book of the original edition. When Spencer and I started to read the original edition, we realized how much the world had changed since 1982, the year it was published. For example, in the old book, the One Minute Manager was still using an intercom!

Here in the 21st century, not only has technology progressed, so have a lot of things. People are different today. They want to find meaning in their work and be appreciated for their efforts. This has changed the way effective leaders interact with the people who report to them. In the 1980s, command-and-control, top-down leadership was still a way of life. Today’s leadership is more of a side-by-side, partnership relationship.

 

Leadership Tip: Praise people as soon as possible.

 

One Minute Re-Direct

One Minute Re-Directs are new. How do they work? Where did the idea originate?

Lessons from SEAL, the Toughest Man on the Planet

Break the Norm for Wild Success

 

Ever feel like you want to take your physical fitness plan up a notch?

Maybe give it your all for 51 Days with former Mr. Universe Rich Gaspari?

Or maybe hire a Navy SEAL to move in with your family for 31 days?

 

“Every day do something that makes you uncomfortable.” -SEAL

 

Jesse Itzler doesn’t do conventional. He doesn’t follow the social norms most of us do. He is a bold, risk taking entrepreneur who seemingly tries anything. He once pretended to be a major hip-hop artist to get a meeting with a studio executive and ended up with a recording deal.

But hire one of the toughest men on the planet to get you into the best shape of your life? Jesse did just that. I recently asked the wildly successful and completely unorthodox Jesse Itzler to share some of his experiences. His new book Living with a Seal: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet, is a hilarious account of his physical fitness journey. (Warning: the book contains language that may be offensive to some readers.)

 

“It doesn’t have to be fun It has to be effective.” -SEAL

 

Get Your Foot in the Door and Figure it Out Later

 

Living With a SealI’m not quite sure how to describe you, but you’ve had crazy success from music to business. You cofounded Marquis Jet, invested in ZICO, and your wife invented SPANX. That seems like you would be someone who would make wise decisions. And then I read this hilarious book and wonder about that assumption. For those who want to emulate your success, how do you describe your decision-making process?

We are totally on the same page because I really don’t know how to describe myself either. I have always lived my life out of the box, and it has brought me great rewards. For the most part, my decision making has been based on my gut mixed with a philosophy of let me get my foot in the door first . . . and then figure the rest out later.

 

“If you want to be pushed to your limits, you have to train to your limits.” -SEAL

 

Jesse, you see a crazy in-shape SEAL and decide he should move in with you and your family. You don’t know him; you didn’t do a background check; you agree to do whatever he says. ARE YOU INSANE? Why did you do this?

I met SEAL at a 24 hour ultra marathon. I ran the race as part of a relay team, and SEAL ran the entire 24 hour race . . . alone. He was his own team. He had a determination and focus that I had never witnessed before in my life. I decided on the spot that I could learn a lot from that man.

 

“The only easy day was yesterday.” -SEAL

 

Say No to Non-Essentials

What was most surprising about those 31 days?