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3 Glorious Life Lessons from George Washington

We shouldn’t look to history for just facts and figures.

We should look to history for life lessons from the men and women who made it happen so that we may make it happen in our own life!

Or as George Washington once said,

So what life lessons can we take from Washington?

LESSON 1: LIVE BY A CODE

In our modern society there’s a lot of focus on being popular & liked, which btw please like this post ;)

But George Washington didn’t derive his personal identity from the opinion of others.

He derived it from whether or not he felt like he was living up to his own ideal self.

An ideal he started shaping as a boy.

Sometime before the age of 16 he wrote down his 110 Rules of Civility and he remained impressively consistent with these rules throughout his life.

3. When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usually Discovered.

7. If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkerchief or Hand before your face and turn aside.

15. Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.

32. Shew not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy

89. Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.

92. Take no Salt or cut Bread with your Knife Greasy.

110. Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.

109. Let your Recreations be Manful not Sinful.

110. Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.

To give you an example of him living by his moral code over worrying about being liked, let’s go back to the French and Indian War where he ordered 100 lashes for those who fled camp!

Even in colonial Virginia this was seen as harsh, but Washington believed it was necessary to maintaining order in the ranks.

And even though people disapproved of the harshness, they still respected him because they saw he held himself to an even higher standard than the one he punished others for.

Now flash forward to after winning the American Revolution, officers began circulating an anonymous letter calling for the overthrow of Congress because of its broken promise to pay them.

George Washington could have utilized this anger to march on Congress and crown himself King.

But instead he went before his men with a letter in hand. He hesitated for a moment as he looked down at the letter, fumbling to retrieve a pair of spectacles from his pocket, and in an almost apologetic tone said,

Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown old in the service of my country and now find that I am growing blind.

His men filled up with tears because they realized that as much as they gave — he gave more.

Minutes later they unanimously voted to express their confidence in congress, nearly a decade after congress had unanimously voted to express their confidence in George Washington. A confidence that George Washington clearly lived up to and exceeded based largely on his strong moral code.

LESSON 2: LIVE WITH PURPOSE

George Washington was a wealthy man.

He could have easily lived out his days in the shade, sipping on lemonade, overlooking the Potomac river while barking orders at his slaves to fan him faster!

But he chose to live with purpose.

A purpose to fight for the life and freedom of his fellow Americans.

For example, to rally his men he would ride a white horse to the front lines with guns firing all around him, cutting down his horse and cutting through his coat.

After one victory, George Washington uttered one of the most badass things in American history,

“I heard the bullets whistle; and believe me, there is something charming in the sound.”

Later in life after retiring from the military, it became clear to him that the Articles of Confederation wasn’t working.

John Adams and James Madison begged him to come out of retirement and chair a new constitutional convention.

George Washington was reluctant.

He didn’t want to get embroiled in politics. He wanted to live out his remaining days on the farm, but his sense of duty and purpose compelled him to accept the chairmanship and eventually the presidency.

LESSON 3: LIVE FOR VISION

George Washington wasn’t the most knowledgable or intelligent founding father. After all, he only had a few years of schooling while Thomas Jefferson could read and write in six languages.

But yet all the founding fathers agreed that George Washington was the most indispensable of them all.

His vision didn’t come from theory as much as it did from the battlefield.

And whereas many of the founding fathers saw the country as a collection of united states, George Washington saw it as The United States.

This is because the other founding fathers were elected to represent their state, such as John Adams from Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin from Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson from Virginia, whereas George Washington was appointed the Commander-In-Chief of the entire Continental Army.

First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.

And this unified perspective helped shape his nationalistic vision of a strong union, an elected legislature, the rule of law, an executive with power to enforce the law, supremacy of national laws over state laws, and a permanent civil-controlled military.

During his presidency, he was so dedicated to this vision that he didn’t allow his personal animosities toward Britain to stop him from signing the Jay Treaty, which he got a lot of backlash for since it gave most favored nation trading status to Britain.

People like Thomas Jefferson wanted it to go to France since France was embroiled in their own revolution and after all they were the ones that helped us win the American Revolution.

But Washington saw the Jay Treaty as a necessity to the continued survival of the fragile United States. As the maxim goes, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”

By signing the treaty with a former enemy it gave the U.S. more time to grow its economy, rebuild its military, and pay off its debts.

This “deal with the devil” is what put the U.S. in a better position to later win the War of 1812 against Britain. Had the War of 1812 happened in 1793 then the United States would have likely lost.

After the presidency, George Washington continued looking toward the future.

He didn’t spend much time thinking about the glory days.

In the last years of his life, his letters demonstrate a focus on making improvements to his farm, brewery, and the military.

George Washington’s life lessons to live by code, live with purpose, and live for vision can also be expressed as character over popularity, purpose over pleasure, future over past.

Thanks for reading! Anthony Galli writes about the greats so that we may become great. Watch his series @ The Great Life.

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Anthony Galli

Anthony Galli

Independent Analysis to Free the Individual | www.AnthonyGalli.com

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