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Winner of the 2011 Independent Association of Business Top Leader Award; Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

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George Washington – RESOLVED for Character

Posted by Orrin Woodward on November 29, 2011

Here is a portion of the introduction from my new book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE. George Washington focused on building his character every day. This is important for all of us. Have you resolved to grow personally and professionally? Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

By nature, young Washington had a fiery temper, but he developed an iron-willed discipline in order to check its excesses. Richard Norton Smith, in his book, Patriarch, said, “The adolescent Washington examined Seneca’s dialogues and laboriously copied from a London magazine one hundred and ten ‘rules of civility’ intended to buff a rude country boy into at least the first draft of a gentleman”.  The French Jesuits had originally developed the 110 Rules as principles to live by, and Washington’s methodical writing process helped him to adopt many of these maxims as his personal resolutions for life. As Richard Brookhiser, author of Founding Father, wrote, “His manner and his morals kept his temperament under control. His commitment to ideas gave him guidance. Washington’s relation to ideas has been underestimated by almost everyone who wrote of him or knew him, and modern education has encouraged this neglect. . . His attention to courtesy and correct behavior anticipated his political philosophy. He was influenced by Roman notions of nobility, but he was even more deeply influenced by a list of table manners and rules for conversation by Jesuits.”  Character and self-mastery were his goals through living his guiding ideals of fortitude, justice, moderation, and the dignity of every human being.

For Washington, life became a series of resolutions to live by. He wrote and studied many such maxims throughout his life. Here are two examples. (see appendix for more)

1. With me it has always been a maxim rather to let my designs appear from my works rather than by my expressions.
Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.

2. Washington developed and studied his maxims repeatedly, becoming convicted of the correctness of the maxims, teaching virtue over happiness and duty over rights, resolving to live based upon the principles implied within them.

Katherine Kersten, in George Washington’s Character, asks:

“What would Washington have accomplished if happiness, rather than integrity and service, had been his life-goal? Instead of suffering with his men through the snows of Valley Forge, he might have followed the example of Benedict Arnold, another Revolutionary War General. Though brave and talented, Arnold valued his own well-being and prosperity above all else. Out of self-interest, he plotted to betray West Point to the British, and died a traitor to his nation. What can we learn from Washington and his contemporaries about character-building? They teach us, most importantly, that “the soul can be schooled.” Exercising reason and will, we can mold ourselves into beings far nobler than nature made us.”

The ending quotation summarizes character-based training beautifully – “the soul can be schooled”.  Washington attended this class daily on his way to developing the nobility of character needed to unite the American colonies. General Henry Knox spoke truthfully when he shared that it was the strength of Washington’s character, not the laws of the new Constitution, that held the young republic together.  In a tribute to his friend, Congressman Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee eulogized Washington, saying, “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting…Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues…Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.”  Lee’s tribute testifies to Washington’s faithful application of his resolutions into his life, living his maxims both privately and publicly.

8 Responses to “George Washington – RESOLVED for Character”

  1. John Richardson said

    Thank you Orrin for bringing this type of information to us. I am on the last two chapters of Resolved and have already skipped ahead and went through the maxims and resolutions. I believe this will be the most important book of modern times and the distant future as well. I have shared the Washington maxims with two of my sons and at least one of them is excited to read your book and start implementing the maxims into his life. L.I.F.E. is changing for our family in all eight f’s. We like it, are pursuing it, and can’t wait to look back and say WOW! How did we get here? We know through Christ our Lord we can do anything, and the l.I.f.e. subscriptions are getting us the right information to help make it possible.
    Thank You,
    John and Heather Richardson.

  2. Jason Dames said

    This has been such an inspiring article. I can’t wait for the book to come out!!!

  3. Carrie Gillispie said

    Orrin, My husband and I are part of Jim & Delores Martin’s group here in Florida. I love evrything LIFE and this group of people stand for. When there’s a purpose beyond the product, it’s easier to promote it to others. I thought you’d like to know, in case you hadn’t read it, that there’s a book by Coral Ridge Ministries called “10 Truths about America’s Christian Heritage”. I used it last year when we were teaching Sunday school at our church and the kids were amazed at how different it was from what they learned in school. It’s not a very big book, but it’s thought provoking and teaches the truth. I had my 11 year old read it for school as one of his independant reading books. It might be something good for kids to get their hands on as well. God bless you and your family and thanks for being a person of integrity.
    Sincerely,
    Carrie Gillispie

  4. Thanks for the book Orrin is is awesome. I look at you as a modern day George Washington, from the decisions you made since I have known you has always backed on what you teach on character. It is a great feeling to be a part of what we do and the leaders that we follow such as yourself and Tim Marks and the rest of the poicy counsel of the Team. We together will change the world.

    God Bless,
    Jim Martin

  5. Venkat Varada said

    I am having a such a great time reading your book. You have taught us the principles in the book all along but to have them in one place and actually internalize and come up with our own from each chapter is a great exercise I am going through. I will put some articles on your book in the next 3-4 weeks and I put my first post on my blog venkatvarada.wordpress.com. Hope you like it. Thank you for being a beacon of light for us to follow and being steadfast and obedient to what God has called you to.

  6. Bernie said

    I’m so grateful for what the PC and Team has done to make the LIFE business possible. The best part are the truths and principles taught in the cds, books, and seminars. I just love how you & Chris use history in your talks to bring these truths to life. I hated history in high school. It was very boring and it mainly consisted of copying notes the teacher had written down and studying those notes for the monthly exam. But now it’s different. Digging into the depth of character, integrity, and purpose these individuals of the past had is so amazing. It’s enlightening. And now I love history. Thanks for creating a culture of personal development throughout the team. Look forward to getting to a million people making a difference!

  7. That is one of my favorite pictures. Great article, have read that section in Resolved and it is a amazing. The more I dig into Resolved I realize how many LIFE principles are involved by developing one’s resolutions. Critical thinking, goal setting, and emotional intelligence to name just a few. Thank you for all your effort and willingness to lead.
    God Bless.

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