“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” This closing line of the document signed in Philadelphia on this day, 241 years ago, had significant meaning to the 56 men whose names followed. Simply entering just the words I used in the title of this message yielded dozens of blog posts and tweets from earlier today, and rightfully so… And while I consider myself more than blessed to live in this great nation, truly thankful for the sacrifice those men made (and millions more have made since), I’m hoping to challenge you in a different way with what follows…
The subtitle to chapter 6 of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, The Law of Solid Ground, is “Trust Is The Foundation of Leadership.” The Sacred Honor referred to in this last line of the document that set a course to birth our nation was based on this foundation of trust that group of men had for one another. In the opening paragraph of this chapter, John says “Leaders cannot repeatedly break trust with people and continue to influence them.” I can’t imagine that any of these men could have ever broken trust with anyone else present and been allowed in the room.
Fast forward nearly two and a half centuries; how many people do you know today that you would be willing to make that same kind of commitment to? How many people honestly have that level of trust in you?
Thankfully, we may never have to take this same type of oath. Regardless, do you consider your own Honor to be Sacred? Unfortunately, we can likely point to many more examples where people seem to consider making their Fortunes to be far more Sacred…
I’ve seen this play out in two very different ways over the last few weeks. One won’t be something I’ll ever share; it’s certainly not an example I’d suggest following… The other is tied to a decision I’ve struggled with a bit, and finally landed on what I believe to be the right choice (with some very valuable input from two good friends and business associates). At the risk of seeming “self-promoting,” I’ll share a bit on that.
I’ve been blessed to serve on several boards and committees over the last few years, some in the John Maxwell community and some in our local area. I volunteered for each of the roles to add value to the membership the group served AND to have the opportunity to learn from other team members with more experience than me. I’m of the opinion that I can find a way to apply just about anything I can learn from someone else. The tough decision came when I was asked to accept a fairly high-level leadership role with one of those groups. While I’m one of the newest members of this group and it would add more to an already overloaded schedule, I have no doubt that I can meet (and exceed) the expectations of the role. My real concern was in making sure that I accepted for the right reasons; keeping my Honor in tact… I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but I will circle back to the question I asked you earlier: How many people honestly have that level of trust in you? The level of trust that they’re willing to support you in situations like this?
Quite honestly, I hesitated to use this example because I absolutely don’t want this to be about me. God knows I’ve made my share (and likely more) poor decisions too. I do hope it serves as an example of the importance of The Law of Solid Ground.