The Devil Made Me Do It

From the very beginning of creation, we have been blaming others for our own actions.

The devil convinced Eve to eat the apple.  Eve convinced Adam it was good and he ate.

God asked Adam if he ate of the forbidden tree.  Adam said “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” (Adam had guts – even blamed God for giving him the woman!)

God asked Eve what she had done.  Eve said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

That’s where we got ‘The devil made me do it’.  (And you thought it was Flip Wilson!)

IMG_0441We aren’t very consistent with our blame game though.

We blame the gun in a shooting, but we don’t blame the car in a fatal accident.

Politicians blame the other party for not getting anything done and then participate in a sit-in protest not getting anything done.

I wonder what happened to responsibility?

Responsibility for our actions, responsibility for our words.

Every day there is another example of saying things that incite riots and violence – Ferguson, Baltimore, Dallas.

It seems with every new situation there is someone stepping to a microphone to vilify a business, a race, or a political party.

Frankly, I’m tired of it!

What happened to responsibility?  What happened to leadership?

Responsibility and leadership are about others.

Blame is about power – and not the good kind.

Recently, I was listening to an episode of Jeff Brown’s podcast Read To Lead where he was interviewing Seth Godin.  Jeff asked him what he would fix in the world:

“I would like the people who work to tear down our culture and to tear down our society, to take responsibility and to own what they are choosing to do with their time and with their words and their weapons.

It’s so easy to blame the other guy and deny that it’s your responsibility when you act in a certain way, whether you are a freedom-fighter or a lawyer or something in between.  You need to own your actions.

Unfortunately, the combination of media and politics and commerce makes it too easy to say ‘I was just doing my job, I was just following orders’.

And I hope we can get ever closer to a place where people say ‘Yeah, I did that and I take responsibility’.  Because if they do say that I believe we will all end up acting better.”

It’s time we had real leaders step up, take responsibility for their words and their actions.  That’s real strength. Blaming others is weakness.

It can be scary to be responsible, I know from experience.  But the integrity and credibility to end up with is worth it.

So, I’m calling for a new set of leaders.  If you’re going to say it – own it and be prepared for the responsibility of the result.  If you’re going to do it – accept the consequences.

If you want to stand out in today’s world, be a responsible leader.


Leave a comment if you are through with the blame game and want to be a responsible, principled leader.  We need you.  We’ll do it together.


Independence Declared: Are We Still Free?

A person of principle, once a decision and course of action is set, doesn’t look back or second-guess their decision.

Firm resolve is sorely lacking today.  People seem to be afraid of criticism so either they don’t act with conviction or they absolve themselves from making decisions.

When it comes to leading a team, a company or a country a firm resolve is paramount.


July 4, 1776

By July 4, 1776 General George Washington was desperate for more reinforcements, flints for their guns and provisions for the troops.  Watching as the British and mercenary fleet kept growing in New York harbor, it was only a matter of time before an invasion by the British began.

For several weeks now, General Washington sent daily dispatches reminding the Congress of the critical shortage of men and supplies.  The few reinforcements that were being sent were not enough.

50,000 men were now gathered for a showdown on Manhattan Island.  Muskets and guns were about to resolve the issues being argued by statesmen on both sides of the Atlantic.  The only thing remaining was the bloody business of war, and that was in the hands of General George Washington.

For two days they edited and changed the wording of the declaration.  Finally, on the 4th of July 1776, there was agreement on the terms – the document was ready for the vote.  A final reading was ordered:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

A bold and majestic manifesto, a declaration of freedom for all men, unanimously adopted.  Men of proud vision and violent passion, they signed the charter of freedom with a bold and selfless vow:

“An 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.”

And so was born the United States of America.

Weary and tired, the delegates were anxious to leave.  First, a few last-minute details needed to be settled.

A committee to supervise the printing of the Declaration was elected and resolution passed to have copies sent for public reading to the assemblies of the newly independent states.  Copies were also sent to General Washington for proclamation to the Continental Army and to all the churches to be read on the first Lord’s day after it was received.

Before concluding this historic session on July 4th, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were elected to prepare the official seal, the Great Seal of the newly united states.

On July 8, 1776 the Declaration of Independence would be read for the first time in public, announced by the ringing of the Liberty Bell.

What do resolve to do today?  Don’t wait until tomorrow, you have probably been putting it off….for too long.  Do it today and move forward.

Leave a comment on your decision.  I’m rooting for you!

Terrorist Threat or Practical Joke?

You hear of a terrorist act or threat nearly every day now.  They are meant to intimidate and control the actions of others.

There’s nothing new about them, except today leaders have become cowed and controlled by even the threat of terrorism.  It didn’t use to be that way in America.

July 3, 1776

A day after agreeing to a resolution for independence, the delegates to Congress discovered an anonymous note which had been left on the President of Congress John Hancock’s Table.

It contained a warning that they all would be destroyed because they had “gone too far”.  A plot had been devised for their destruction unless they halted the course they were on.

Some thought it was a practical joke, but others were not so sure.  Several potential enemies of America had been rounded up in the past few days and a number of prominent loyalist sympathizers had been tarred and feathered.

Some delegates wanted to form a search party to search the cellar below the State House to see if a bomb had been hidden in the munitions storage.  Samuel Adams thought it a waste of time. It was decided to ignore the note and show the world they were not afraid of a silly note.

On the afternoon of July 3rd the delegates to Congress assembled to hear the first reading of the Declaration of Independence that Thomas Jefferson had been working on for several days.


The title, “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled”, it was the first time the term “United States of America” had been used in a public document.  These were unfamiliar words that would ultimately define a nation.

The four-page document included a Preamble and philosophy of free government, accusations against King George III, and a closing resolution to be free and independent states.

As the day of debate drew to a close, the adoption of the declaration would have to wait another day.

While the delegates in Philadelphia debated the terms of independence, a former colleague, Silas Deane, was on a secret mission to France to convince them to sell munitions to the rebels in America.  Playing on the dislike of the British by the French, Deane located a source who offered an arrangement to provide the necessary munitions for a war.

Freedom was hard to come by in Europe.  Their best hop to be rid of the oppression of the British empire lie in America.

Asked why he was so willing to help, the new ally said, “May the tree of liberty grow and flourish there:  its seeds will scatter far, and the great winds of change shall blow them across the seas.  You deserve our help.  You deserve the help of all who call themselves friends of freedom!”

When someone is trying to bully or threaten you, do you cower and give in or do you stand by your principles?

Leave a comment about the principles you live by.

Leaders Find The Resolve to Act

We call it partisanship.  It’s actually a ploy to continue to divide in order to project implied power.

If the leaders of the states practiced partisanship to the level we experience today, we would be singing “God Save the Queen” as our national anthem.

However, when a people are pushed to the limit of their endurance and governed with oppression, undue taxation, and arrested without due process, the desire of each person to live free swells to a fever pitch.

July 2, 1776

Finally, they had reached the turning point.  The proposed resolution for independence was a step into the future.  No matter how rough or dangerous the road ahead is, they must go forward together and show the world a united front.

The divided colonies need to put aside their differences and rivalries and form a strong union.  They need to make a treaty with a foreign country which could supply them with munitions.

The debates had divided the delegates over boundaries, taxation and representation as well as whether Congress should have the right to limit the size of the states or have jurisdiction over the Indians and if they should be regulated by Congress.

Before the Congress could consider these issues, they must achieve independence first.

It was raining again on July 2nd and the Congress nervously anticipated the vote on the question of independence.  It was late in the afternoon and the delegates tired of waiting all day for all the delegates to be present.

The Secretary of Congress read the resolution to declare independence.  It contained three clauses that would dissolve all connection with the mother country and become free and independent states – to form a confederation – to secure alliances.  Hearing no objections, after three weeks of debate, the Secretary called the role…


After the final tally was made, twelve colonies had voted and all twelve were in favor of independence, with New York abstaining.  Any olive branch offered by Britain would now be on the point of a bayonet.

The shocking discovery of the plot to assassinate General Washington and his key officers was still the topic of discussion around the port of New York.  General Washington had approved the sentence of hanging for one of his favorite bodyguards involved in the plot.  It was carried out only 4 days earlier.

For days now, the harbor around New York received more and more British and mercenary ships with soldiers ordered to stop the rebellion in America.

Fully aware of the discussions and debates by Congress, General Washington assembled his rag-tag troops.  In silence, the militia men stood within sight of the growing number of ships in the harbor.  Washington let them know it was now about time for them to determine if Americans were to be free men or slaves.

Are in it for you?  Or do you work to resolve your difference?  Sometimes we can’t reach agreement so do you give in or stick to your principles?

Leave a comment and tell me about your resolve to act.

Led By Principles – Are you?

Principled leaders are in short supply.

Many so called “leaders” today, whether in business or in politics, act from greed and the expense of others, break the law because they believe they are entitled, or accuse those who try to hold them accountable “haters”.

There was a time when 56 men came together, argued, threatened and accused each other but in the end came to agreement on a common cause: the freedom that they believed the Creator – Almighty God – gave to every person.

Declaration Debates

It wasn’t an easy decision, nor a popular one.

July 1, 1776

As the low rumble of thunder rolled across the Delaware river, John Dickinson from Philadelphia urged the delegates of the Continental Congress to delay their decision to adopt a resolution for independence.  Lightning flashed, gusty winds and sheets of rain were lashing at the State House as the plea to postpone grew stronger.

“Declaring our independence at a time like this”, he said “is like burning down our house before we have another; in the middle of winter; with a small family; then asking a neighbor to take us in, and finding that he is unready!”

The plea to wait until an answer came from France on the request to form an alliance had merit.  They could use more munitions to fight the British, yet his pleas seem to fall on mostly deaf ears.

They had been debating and arguing the notion of declaring independence from Britain for several weeks.  The Congress delegates knew the arguments.  If they declared to the world at this time the reasons propelling the to independence, they could win allies in their struggle – they could unify the country.

The people were tired of British oppression and ready to resist.  They were ready to combine their strength and risk their lives in support of the Declaration.

John Adams argued for independence.  The King was sending thousands of troops and mercenaries to subdue the country, to divide the colonies and to keep them from forming a strong resistance.

Adams said, “The people will stand behind the Declaration.  We shall be united; we shall fight for freedom; we shall win the respect of the world…”

The evening of July 1st found Thomas Jefferson in his room, with his writing box propped up in from of him near the dim light of an oil lamp making notes of the day.

Appointed to a committee several days earlier to draw up a draft declaration, Jefferson was chosen for the task by the other committee members.

In order to make their case he listed the charges against King George III.  he knew the words he had written on the document would be seen as treason and could get him arrested, sent overseas, and executed by His Majesty’s government.

Jefferson’s faith in the future was stronger than his fears.  He looked out his window to the west and saw the future: new territories and cities, bountiful fields and a republic of free men yet to be born.

Principles – they are what define you.  When others talk about you what do they say?  Are you a person of your word and live by principles that are encouraging, helpful and that motivate others?

Ask some of your friends to be brutally honest and tell you how you are doing.

Leave a comment about what you found out.  If you would like to have a conversation about principled leadership and living a principled life, just email me and I’d be glad to talk with you.