George Washington is perhaps the most important political figure in American history. In honor of President’s Day – and his birthday – here are a few lessons you can learn from American’s first president.
While the story about the cherry tree might be a little less than factual, it’s certainly true that George Washington was a particularly honest man. He was able to use that honesty to help unite a country – and to lead a group of people to victory when the opposite outcome was almost certainly going to come to pass.
“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” – George Washington
Honesty is an amazing policy in the business world, especially when it is so rare.
“Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.” – George Washington
Washington inspired the people who served under him – many in such a way that he brought out their very best. Washington wasn’t a particularly good general, but he had a knack for putting the right people in the right place at the right time.
A good business owner should know how to do the same, and how to reward success while allowing for a certain degree of failure.
“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” – George Washington
If you are a student of history, you know that many of Washington’s contemporaries were better generals and probably better politicians than he was. He was the only real choice for the first president of the United States, though, because it was nearly impossible not to respect the man.
George Washington had a set of ideals that he not only led by, but that he lived by. If you want to inspire the same kind of loyalty he did, you’ll need to do the same.
“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” – George Washington
Washington was a man of many failures – but he never tried to place the blame elsewhere. When he failed, he admitted it. When things went wrong, he was the first to take the blame.
Washington was an incredible student of his own failings, and turned many of them into future successes. Admitting fault is a great way to make others realize you put your business ahead of your ego.
Learn from Your Mistakes
“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.” – George Washington
Before his presidency, Washington was perhaps best known for his failures during the French and Indian War. His name was linked to a major loss, yet that loss never defined him. Why? Because he was able to learn from his mistakes and become a better leader.
Taking the time to learn from your own mistakes will help you to shore up your own weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
George Washington is definitely a person to be admired, not because he was perfect but because he was honest, respectable and he transcended his faults. He was an idealist, a man of the people, and a man who was more than willing to take blame than to pass it. He learned more from his losses than his victories.
This President’s Day, take a page from Washington’s play book and become something more.