"You don't get to pick your circumstances. It's your obligation to be your best no matter what you're asked to do." - Lieutenant Colonel Greg Gadson
Lieutenant Colonel Greg Gadson has survived the very worst of war, but this highly decorated American soldier has not been defeated by unfortunate circumstance; instead, his life is a portrait of courage in the face of great adversity. Gadson understands that hard work and determination are key factors in overcoming life-altering setbacks. His biggest challenge happened in Iraq when an IED attack led to both of his legs being amputated above the knees. For anyone else, this might have been a defining moment, but he refused to be defined by the proverbial "hail of bullets."
Gadson speaks with fervor about the crucial role teamwork and camaraderie play when facing life's obstacles. He applies his story of personal adversity to every level of an organization, showing how every team depends on every one of its players. The lessons he imparts are not just words; his life was saved by the application of these same lessons. As an Army commander, he has been responsible for the lives of his men, and thanks to the training, preparedness, and professionalism he teaches and practices--his life was saved by those same men. Perhaps no one understands the value of teamwork better than Lieutenant Colonel Greg Gadson.
A highly decorated lieutenant colonel, Gadson commanded the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery in Iraq. He's served in every major conflict of the last two decades, including Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Kuwait), Operation Joint Forge (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq). His awards include the Bronze Star (3), Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal, to name only a few.
In 2017, Gadson was awarded the Henry Viscardi, Jr. Achievement Award, which recognizes exemplary leaders within the disability community and their extraordinary societal contributions, while remembering the spirit and legacy of its founder. Still an active officer in the U.S. Army, Gadson recently completed a master's degree in policy management from Georgetown University, and he is a fellow at the Institute of World Politics. He also teaches lessons of teamwork he's learned with young people on high school and college football teams around the country.
Pride, Poise, Team. Gadson's football playing career ended at West Point, but his impact on the sport has reached amazing new heights. In 2008, he played a key, behind-the-scenes role in the New York Giants' Super Bowl victory. At the behest of Head Coach Tom Coughlin, Gadson met the team and talked to them briefly about service, duty, perseverance, and adversity. Although Gadson refuses to take any credit, the Giants players and coaches have heralded the key inspirational role he played in their unprecedented season, eventually inviting him to watch from the team bench during their remarkable playoff run. For his example of leadership, courage, and camaraderie, Gadson was named the Giants' Honorary co-Captain at the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field. As a starting linebacker on the Army football team at West Point, he learned Coach Jim Young's fundamentals of organization--Pride, Poise, Team--a touchstone lesson which Gadson applies to his life, career, and family. Gadson continues to live by his coach's motto as well as the advice he gave the Super Bowl Champs: "You have to fight for every yard, every inch."
OVERCOMING ORGANIZATIONAL ADVERSITY
"You don't get to pick your circumstances." This, according to Greg Gadson, is the lesson that he had to learn anew when he faced the toughest circumstances of his life. With unprecedented events affecting organizations all over the country and the world, Gadson imparts not only an inspirational message but he also shows how his real-life Army training and leadership experience can help organizations overcome their biggest challenges. Through personal anecdotes from his career and his own challenges, he shows organizations that hurdles and obstacles are placed in front of us everyday, but we do not have to be defined by them.
CIRCUMSTANCES DON'T DEFINE US
Gadson speaks with clarity and emotion about everyone's capacity to get back up after a fall. He explains, through the example of his personal experience, that we have no vote in the circumstances which befall us, but we do have a choice in how we will overcome those circumstances. He speaks to the interplay of an assertive self-reliance and the importance of teamwork, which was crucial in his own survival: "You are in control of your own destiny, but you need to figure out how to work together to protect yourself and the people close to you." Gadson shows how the careful organization and training of his infantry battalion resulted in his own life-saving rescue, and he relates how these principles of preparation and trust can be implemented to calm the storm of the ever-changing workplace.
PRIDE, POISE, AND TEAM
Greg Gadson inspires audiences to overcome adversity by telling his unique and remarkable story. He relates how he used the core principle of "Pride, Poise, and Team" to rise above his injuries and how he still lives by this motto today to succeed in his family, career, and life. This fundamental of organization was instilled in Gadson at West Point, by Army football coach Jim Young, and he has never forgotten it. Whether commanding the only battalion in the 4th Infantry Brigade not to suffer a single fatality in Iraq, or giving a pre-game speech to the 2008 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, Colonel Greg Gadson's every word is infused with courage, consistency, and the ethics of teamwork. He truly defines "grace under fire."
Author of The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary
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