July 4, 1776
If you’ve ever been to Philadelphia in the summer, you know how hot it is.
Imagine yourself there in 1776. You’re a representative of one of the colonies, wearing a dress coat, a shirt with sleeves tightly cuffed at your wrist and, of course, your silk stockings.
It’s now July 4th and the document is ready for signature. With its final approval, the colonies will declare independence from Great Britain, ending a long debate and all revisions of the document. The United States, a new nation, will be born.
You approach the table and see John Hancock’s signature in massive letters, which he says is so that “King George can see it without spectacles.”
Your turn to sign. The other delegates look at you expectantly.
You realize the weight of the moment, but you also realize that, by signing, your own life will be in danger. To many, you will be a traitor. If the revolution fails, you will hang for just a few letters on a piece of paper.
You push those thoughts aside and sign.
Your signature, along with the others, just changed the world.
A new beginning. The United States of America is now born.
The new country was far from perfect. The horrific practice of slavery wouldn’t end until the Civil War nearly ripped the country apart. Women and minorities had no vote.
Still, the United States of America would become a country that most of us are proud to call home. We value family, freedom, God and country.
Back to July 4th, 1776.
Your Leadership Moment
It was an incredible leadership moment.
As I reflect this week on the July 4th holiday, I think about the leadership lessons from that day:
We can all learn lessons from the men who gathered in Philadelphia in the hot summer of 1776. They not only crafted a document but also chartered a new future for the world.
And, today, that same promise is possible for you—because all of us have the opportunity to be bold about our own future—to make the decisions about where we want to go, what we want to become. Your present situation is nothing more than the accumulated decisions of the past. Your future is whatever you want to create.
You may not have the Declaration of Independence in front of you to sign, but you have something just as compelling. It’s your own declaration. It’s crafting and determining your own future.
Let’s all learn from July 4th and make it a bold one.