An Unprecedented Privilege and Opportunity to Lead

It’s Independence Day, July 4th! The day we Americans celebrate our independence and glory as a nation. I read a Reuter’s reporter this morning who said we Americans celebrate this history-changing day with “fireworks, acts of gluttony, and escapes to the beach.” My family will gather at my brother’s home for the acts of gluttony and an escape in the pool, but we’ll be on our own for the fireworks. In keeping with tradition, communities across the country will launch fireworks after dark, perhaps the most emblematic way to commemorate July 4, 1776, when the American colonies' Declaration of Independence from Britain was adopted.

The Declaration of Independence heralds the rights of all people to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (trivial fact: Too many U.S. cities today allow people to pursue all of that in competitions over how many hot dogs and hamburgers people can stuff down their throats in rapid succession! I would like to encourage all of us as leaders today to lift our sights on pursuits just a little higher than that).

It is an unprecedented privilege and opportunity in the history of humankind to be able to lead as we do as American citizens today.

  • Regardless of our birth or station in life, we can choose a field of endeavor that suits our gifts and preferences. We can work for employers who are compelled by law to treat us fairly and give us the option to stay or leave their employ. We can choose to start our own businesses, and take them as a far as our gifts and energy can take us. Let’s choose well and work hard.
  • We can start over if we fail. Failure isn’t final unless we allow it to be. Defeat is not a life sentence here. In America, some of our greatest heroes are ones who failed—even more than once—but kept at it until they succeeded.
  • We can lead with excellence. We have resources at our ready use to develop us and grow us to be excellent at our craft, and lead others to be excellent. We can do work that makes us proud.
  • We can help others. Our culture is a culture where we are encouraged and applauded for engaging others in a process of succeeding. We can offer hands up to others who will in turn grow and succeed and be part of the wonderful fruits of independence.

America is not a perfect place, but history shows that our founding fathers gave the world a beautiful start. Two quotes from Thomas Jefferson, one of those who signed this document and backed it up with his life, sum up our privilege as leaders here:

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”– Thomas Jefferson

Let’s lead! Happy 4th of July!

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