The Resolved Life
Posted by Orrin Woodward on September 6, 2011
What separates those who achieve greatness in life from those who seem to just get by? More pointedly, what separates those who just get by from those who blame others for their sorry existence? The answer to both questions relates to the level of commitment made to live by one’s resolutions. I am excited to announce the release of RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE on November 1, 2011. It is a perfect match to go with the launch of LIFE. Get ready for an exciting future. Here is a portion of the introduction from the new book. Sincerely, Orrin Woodward
In the early eighteenth century, three young colonial Americans resolved to build lives of virtue through the study and application of daily resolutions. Each made his life count, creating a legacy of selfless thoughts, words, and deeds. The first, through tireless sacrificial leadership, against indescribable odds, defeated the mighty British Empire with his ragtag group of colonial volunteers. The second, through his growing international fame, sterling character and endless tact, became America’s leading diplomat, forming international alliances that secured war funding, without which, the colonial’s cause was doomed. The third, by his overwhelming intellectual and spiritual gifts, became colonial America’s greatest minister, who by his preaching and writing, fanned the flames of the Great Awakening; a spiritual renewal in colonial America, that led to further political and economic freedoms after the American Revolution. These men, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Jonathan Edwards, transformed themselves through the diligent study and application of their resolutions, creating an enduring legacy, not just through what they did, but more importantly through who they were. George Washington developed into a man of character whose love of principles surpassed his love for power; Ben Franklin developed into a man of tact whose desire for influence surpassed his need for recognition; and Jonathan Edwards developed into a spiritual giant whose humility surpassed his need for human advancement. All three developed wisdom by overcoming self. Through developing, studying, and consistently applying their resolutions, these men changed not only themselves, but also the world.
But if three of the greatest Americans utilized resolutions to develop wisdom and virtue, why isn’t this practice taught in every family, school and church around the world? Stephen Covey suggests an answer, “As my study took me back through 200 years of writing about success, I noticed a startling pattern emerging in the content of literature. . . I began to feel more and more that much of the success literature of the past 50 years was superficial. It was filled with social image consciousness, techniques and quick fixes – with social band-aids and aspirin that addressed acute problems and sometimes appeared to solve them temporarily, but left the underlying chronic problems untouched to fester and resurface time and again.” Society it seems, values image over integrity, commercialism over character, and fame over foundations, but what a high price has been paid for these errors. Jose Ortega y Gassett, in his book, Revolt of the Masses, describes the dichotomy, “The most radical division that is possible to make of humanity is that which splits it into two classes of creatures: those who make great demands on themselves, piling up difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing upon themselves any effort towards perfection; mere buoys that float on the waves.”
Washington, Franklin, and Edwards achieved lasting greatness then, not as floating buoys, but by swimming against the current. Resolving to be different, they nurtured themselves on principles not personalities, seeking the true greatness of character, not the false friendship of fame. Author Jim Black wrote, “For most of our history, Americans placed greater stock in a man’s character than in his possessions. The American Dream held that, by hard work and self-discipline we could achieve success. And success was not measured in material possessions alone…The common wisdom of the day taught that greed, luxury, and self-indulgence were the passions of weak character. And the frugal nature of the pioneers taught that the treasures to be valued most were the virtues of honesty, good character, and moral strength.” Covey describes America’s founding success literature similarly, writing, “The first 150 years or so focused on what could be called the Character Ethic as the foundation of success – things like integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the Golden Rule.” Without character, in other words, one can never be truly successful because the foundation of all long-term success isn’t what a person owns, but who a person is. Regretfully, society seems to have forgotten this commonsense principle, probably because commonsense isn’t so common today.