Some thoughts…

1-12-2010
Niki’s blog for the Leading Edge:

George is on a train somewhere in the northeast heading to or from an awesome historical research project that EVERYONE will hear about eventually but not today. So I thought that I’d blog in his place. My name is Niki Thrash and I am the Director of Institutional Advancement for the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. I’ve been working for the Museum for about a year and a half and I have to tell you that this experience has been life changing. I don’t believe that I ever realized that history could have a very real impact on real issues in real time. I used to consider history as a slice of time, isolated and unique and I thought that a museum was a snap shot of a given aspect of that slice of time. I had always seen Museums as repositories…a building that would hold stuff for people to look at and remember a time gone by. I just didn’t get it. Then I started working for George.

George Wunderlich, NMCWM’s visionary Executive Director, has often said that if we study history for history’s sake, then it is no more than a hobby. But when we are able to engage a modern audience with historical perspectives, innovations and insights and help them to relate those innovations and insights directly to their life and world today, we are helping to change our community and our world for the better.

Now THAT makes sense to me! As a matter of fact, our museum’s management structure and processes are based on proven management innovations that were tested on the bloodiest single day in American History – the Battle of Antietam.

One of the most relevant lessons that history teaches us is the importance of clarity of mission. For this reason in the first quarter of this year, the Museum’s Board of Directors approved the following revision to the institution’s stated mission:
The National Museum of Civil War Medicine is the premier center
for the preservation and research of the legacy of Civil War medical innovation.

This mission can only be achieved by the realization that the NMCWM is in fact a living institution that utilizes the history of Civil War medical innovations to inspire, engage and encourage. We inspire our society by connecting the lessons of the past with the challenges of our world today. We engage the broadest possible audience and partners and then encourage innovative and collaborative scholarship. It is education that is at the heart of our mission and it is important to note that we are very intentionally working to prepare present and future leaders of our world.

Now more than ever our world needs decisive and innovative leaders. We have seen a growing number of youth and those working with youth drawn to our historically-based leadership development programs. While we continue developing important relationships with our military partners, this past year the Letterman Institute was created as a new division of the Museum. Born of our work with military leadership development, the Letterman Institute has opened new opportunities for us to work with developing leaders. Our programs with civic, religious and educational organizations continue to grow at an exciting pace.

The NMCWM and the Letterman Institute are not only preserving artifacts and stories, we are “using the lessons of our past to build a better tomorrow. “ How awesome is that?

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January 12, 2010 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

“Be Prepared”

I think I should start at the beginning.  For me the words “Be Prepared” are at the very core of my understanding of leadership.  Many of you will know that these words were penned by Lord Robert Baden-Powell the founder of the Boy Scouts and named Chief Scout of the World in 1920 at the first World Jamboree.  These words still stand as the very core of scouting ideals.  When I think of leadership I think: “BE PREPARED!”

It is not simply that my first leadership experience came through scouting.  As a youth the importance of preparedness as a leadership skill escaped me.  I understood the need of all citizens to be prepared as a part of daily life for their own comfort and safety.   I did not see preparedness as a leadership issue until later in life. 

In order to be a good servant leader one must be able to lead in many different environments and situations.  Those who are mentally, physically and emotionally prepared for the many trials of daily life will certainly serve others better than those who are not prepared and therefore fail in leading others when those trials inevitably come.  The trial may be as common as a loss of a communications system or as severe and unusual as a major natural disaster.  Are you prepared top deal with either….right now?

If you wish to lead you must be confident in your ability to deal with anything.  When Baden-Powell was asked what he meant when he said that a scout was prepared. He said that he meant they were prepared for anything…everything.  That is a tall order! 

How can anyone be prepared for everything?  Preparedness does not come from the storage of supplies (although this is important for certain disasters) but from preparing the mind with a broad range of knowledge and the practiced ability to plan on the run.  It also comes from a confidence that comes from planning and learning.

As an exercise try this.  Next time you are out let yourself daydream a bit and consider what “could happen” where you are.  It may be a fire, an accident or even a first aid emergency.  Then dram it through.  What will you do?  How will you respond?  What do you see around you that you could use to assist you?  Think back to the famous scene in “The Princess Bride”  where the man in black, the Spaniard and the giant are planning to storm a castle with sixty  guards at the gate.  They listed their assets, made a plan and carried the day.  Fairy tale or not, this is how it is done. 

After you play your day-dream out in your head ask yourself a question: could I do better in the future if I had more information at my disposal?  Set yourself a goal of gaining that knowledge and then move on to other scenarios.  After a short time you will find yourself more prepared than ever.  You may even want to share your self test here in the comment section.  You will also find yourself seeking some additional “assets” like an automotive or home emergency kit, a first aid kit or a fire extinguisher.  The more you work the better prepared you will be.  In turn, the more service you can be to others in an emergency. 

This service, in an emergency in the peace of an average day, is the first step in good leadership.

January 3, 2010 at 8:33 pm Leave a comment

Welcome to the Leading Edge blog

Click on either the Home or About buttons to learn more and enjoy the blog!

December 24, 2009 at 3:31 am Leave a comment

Welcome to the Leading Edge

December 15, 2009 at 10:05 pm 3 comments

Coming Soon….

New blog by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine’s Executive Director George Wunderlich!

Continue Reading December 14, 2009 at 2:49 pm 2 comments

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