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What Good Trainers Can Learn from The Gettysburg Address

Today, on President’s Day, we’d like to turn our attention to the text of one of the greatest speeches ever delivered by one of our nation’s leaders. It is The Gettysburg Address, which Abraham Lincoln gave on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863.

One of the most remarkable aspects to this great speech is its brevity. It takes less than three minutes to recite the text. Yet as we know, it is a speech of unequalled historical importance and emotional impact.

We would like to analyze the power of the speech in today’s post on this blog. However before we do, we would like to make it clear that this speech is not something to be casually pulled apart and analyzed. It is, after all, a powerful tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives at Gettysburg, and therefore something to be treated as sacred.

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on 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 battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. 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. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — 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.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

A Structure for Inspiring Action

Let’s take a look at the structure that makes The Gettysburg Address serve as an inspiring call to action. The speech, in fact, has three distinct parts.


Paragraph One (“Four score and seven years ago . . .”) sets out the context for a problem that must be solved. Good training can start out by doing the same thing.


Paragraph Two (“We are now engaged in a great civil war . . . “) explains the current state of the problem – where it is, and what must be done. Again, good training does the same thing. Before you can move ahead, you have to understand where you are now.


Paragraph Three (“But, in a larger sense . . . “) motivates and inspires people to do what must be done to solve the problem at hand. Superior training needs to motivate too.

If you apply Background, Context and Motivation model to your training, we think the result will be training that is more focused and more effective.

On President’s Day 2019, let us now praise famous men and women who continue to inspire us to achieve more as we build our enterprises and preserve our great country.


Stepping up to Greatness with Michael Strasner

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