Apply an 18th Century Strategy to Your Career & Life

Personal BrandingReputation Management

Two-hundred thirty-eight years ago a group of determined men with a vision to create an unprecedented future risked their lives, their fortunes and sacred honor on an untested military commander by the name of George Washington.

Washington was selected to command the Continental Army for two primary reasons.

One, because he was basically the only member of the Second Continental Congress with extensive military experience, having served as a Colonel for the British Colonial Army during the French and Indian War. Secondly, he was subtly lobbying for the position by attending the Congress in his military uniform despite the fact he hadn’t served in the military for 15 years.

Once taking command of the Continental Army there were many ups and downs for Washington, who was forced to apply a mostly defensive strategy while looking for unique opportunities to attack.

There were many times when he was on the brink of losing control of the limited personnel at his command, and a number of calls for his replacement by both Congress and other senior military leaders.

But, Washington always found a way, and went on to be the singular choice to be the fledging nation’s first chief executive.

In reading about Washington, as the legend continues to grow, you get the sense that he may be the most integrity-filled person in American history. He may have been the one person who lived and led by a core set of values that drew people towards him and were enthusiastic to follow his lead.

As a young man (age 14) Washington penned his Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company & Conversation, which outlined 110 separate points to live and lead by.

It seems he lived and served in integrity with those 110 rules as much as any human being could. Washington brought to his life’s roles tremendous levels of self-discipline, which allowed him to eventually become known in the United States as The Father of Our Country, and has an immortal legacy second to none.

That is what a code of conduct can do for you. That is, if you live your life by it.

Few of us mere mortals go to the lengths of penning a code of conduct. I believe it’s for fear of being able to live up to it that prevents most of us from putting those commitments in writing.

Of those that do, I bet few have the self-discipline to follow through as consistently as Washington seems to have been able to do.

Maybe it’s because the pressures of the 21st Century cause us to believe it’s just too hard to stay true to our commitments, but are those pressures any greater than what Washington faced in leading his Continental Army against the most prolific fighting force the world had known to that point in world history?

I think not.

So, with that thought in mind, why not take a few minutes or an hour or so, and pen your own Code of Conduct, then challenge yourself to live by it.