Leadership and The Making of a Nation
by John S Picarello
Every year on July 4th in the United States, we celebrate Independence Day. Picnics, barbecues, and fireworks aside, the celebration is about the ideas expressed in The Declaration of Independence. We consider July 4th, 1776 to be the birth of the nation. The Continental Congress was governing the Colonies from 1774 to 1789. July 4th, 1776 is when Congress finally adopted the declaration. Most of the 56 signers didn’t sign the document until August, and one, a lawyer from Princeton, New Jersey named Richard Stockton, would later recant.
It took great leadership to draft the Constitution, lay the foundations, and guide the fledgling nation through its first generation. Their core values guided their every decision. When you think about it, the freedom we enjoy today is their legacy and a testimony to the strength of their leadership.
Good Leaders Inspire Others with a Compelling Vision
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” What could be more inspiring then the freedom to dream, having the right to realize and reach our potential in pursuit of that dream? The leadership of the founding Fathers inspired their generation to pursue that dream, leaving a legacy that enables us to do the same today! Never underestimate the power of a compelling vision.
Good Leadership is Driven by Good Character
“Good government generally begins in the family, and if the moral character of a people once degenerate, their political character must soon follow.” – Elias Boudinot, president of the Continental Congress
How true this statement is, all leadership rests on character. Who we are within determines how we lead others. All government begins with self-government, then family government…and so on. The leaders of tomorrow are being formed at home today. It was John Maxwell who said, “everything rises and falls on leadership.” The Founding Fathers were men of character and deep conviction; they understood the influence that a leader’s character can have on others. What is the influence of your leadership?
Good Leadership is Self-Disciplined and Self-Governed
“In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” – Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist; Feb.8, 1788
The Founders understood the importance of self-disciplined leadership. They also knew that the future growth and prosperity of the nation would not survive without it. Every scandal we hear about in the news can be directly traced to a lapse in good judgment, beginning with the absence of self-discipline. Good leaders make difficult decisions and do what needs to be done for the greater good, whether they feel like or not.
The Founders led with confidence and conviction while facing opposition, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, as well an ongoing war. They never gave in to fear nor did they ever surrender their vision in hard times, by giving up on themselves or on those around them. In all the battles they faced, it was their self-discipline that gave them the victory within; securing liberty for all who followed.
Be Grateful Supportive Recipients of the Freedoms Secured by Good Leadership
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” – Thomas Paine
The freedoms we enjoy today did not come without a high price tag. It took Leadership with strong character, a compelling vision and courage under fire. Their steady self-disciplined lifestyle inspired others to rally around them, making “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” a reality. Enjoy your July 4th Celebration, and follow their lead! -JSP