This week, I had the immense pleasure of accompanying my son, and his 7th grade class on a trip to Washington D.C. Studying about our Founding Fathers has reminded me of a true example of grace under fire. It is convenient for us to view their accomplishments from the comfort of knowing how great the American experiment has played out over the past 243 years, but for them, the outcome was anything but certain. These men staked their fortunes, their reputations and their lives on what they viewed as the fulfillment of their values. As Benjamin Franklin was quoted “Gentlemen I pray we all hang together, or we will surely all hang together.”
As leaders, I think we should all endeavor to understand the example that the Founding Fathers laid before us. Even if you are not a history buff, the lessons of grace and perseverance of men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John, and Samuel Adams and James Madison provide a foundation of understanding value leadership under extreme circumstances. The very nature of our form of government, which flowed from their sense of balance, echoes grace. Principles like the separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, and proportional representation were meant to moderate the passions of the government and the governed. Moderation and balance, two essential core elements of grace.
These men showed that a higher purpose drove their lives. Thomas Jefferson said, “Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.” So as leaders, when we can focus not on circumstances, but on our values and priorities, then we can live grace under fire.