It’s late afternoon in mid-October. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt is on the campaign trail. He is seeking to re-enter the White House after choosing to leave office four years prior. The former President arrives at the Milwaukee train station shortly after 5 p.m. Teddy Roosevelt makes his way through the crowd that is gathering to see him. He is able to get in an automobile and is taken to dinner. After dinner, Col. Roosevelt is standing near his car outside the Hotel Gilpatrick waiving his hat in response to an enthusiastic crowd. John Schrank pushes his way toward Roosevelt. He raises a 32-caliber pistol aiming at the Colonels head. A courageous citizen hits Schrank’s arm just as the would be assassin pulls the trigger.
Roosevelt is shot in the chest. Henry Cochems, Chairman of the Progressive Party speaker’s bureau, and Elbert Martin, Roosevelt’s stenographer, seized the man and held him until policemen arrive. Roosevelt who was often known to carry a pistol even while serving as president, was unarmed. The bullet traveled through a thick manuscript and his glasses case before embedding several inches into the Rough Rider’s chest. He proceeds to the auditorium to deliver his speech. The Colonel approaches the platform. He removes the manuscript from his vest and holds it up exposing blood and the bullet hole. Roosevelt declares, “It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” He then delivers his 90-minute speech.
Colonel Roosevelt received the highest military award, the Medal of Honor for extraordinary bravery and valor in battle. As President was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Stories like these made Teddy Roosevelt extremely popular and made him larger than life. What can we learn from his incredible life? We will look at just two lessons from the Bull Moose. The first will not surprise anyone who knows much about our Rough Rider. The second will surprise most.
- Bias for action: The list of Theodore Roosevelt’s lifetime achievements are too extensive to list here. He is credited with changing American politics placing the White House at center stage. He broke up monopolies, created the National Parks and passed early food safety laws. Roosevelt was also a Harvard graduate and wrote 33 books. Leaders take action.
- Become genuinely interested in other people: This is a Dale Carnegie principle that President Roosevelt lived. Carnegie draws on Roosevelt’s example several times in his books. The President was known for staying up late the night before taking visitors in the White House. He would read about the topics that interested his guests so he could intelligently discuss the interests of others. He also knew all of the White House servants by name. He even visited the White House after leaving office while President Taft and the First Lady were away so he could see the servants again. His genuine interest in people made President Roosevelt a better leader.
I would like to hear from you. What lessons can you take from the life of Theodore Roosevelt? Are you a leader with a bias for action? Are you a leader who takes a genuine interest in others? How does your team see your leadership? How can you become a better leaders today?
The Lean Leadership Blog
Written for www.consumergoodsclub.com
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