We celebrate the 4th of July as Independence Day, but that was just the beginning. That was just the formal declaration of our intent to become a separate, self-governing nation. Everything, the fighting, the surrender at Georgetown, the Treaty of Paris between Great Britain and the fledgling American government, the Treaties of Versailles between G.B. and our allies led to the actual day of independence when we ratified the Treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784.
Still, a 4th of July picnic sounds much nicer than a 14th of January ice party.
What’s the significance of the dates? Intent VS Action. We had the intent, but our actions precariously carried us to January 14, 1784.
We know people who want to achieve something: money, a bestselling novel, skill with weapons or fluency with a second language. They have the intent, but never make the effort.
I believe it was Teddy Roosevelt who said it best. (TR often said things best.) He certainly said it better than I can paraphrase it, but here goes.
TR thought the credit should go to the person who tries, fails and still stands up and tries again until he reaches his goal. Even though he may not achieve the apex of his dream, he becomes more than what he was.
I used to work out with another student who started his martial arts training elsewhere. He didn’t, in general, like the studio, but he tells one story that stuck with me. When the students seemed to be losing ground and giving up, the head instructor would pull everyone together and call his worse students to the front of the class. Not being blessed with natural talent, these men persevered until they achieved their goals and became his chief assistant instructors and black belts. Many of the students who started with them were better and more talented. But they dropped out and by dropping out, failed where the others succeeded.
This 4th of July, I’ll celebrate the doers. The men and women who worked, failed, got up and did it until they left things better than they found them. Whether you’re a concrete mason, a weekend gardener, or a guy sitting at a desk in a bullpen adding numbers, your effort is recognized and you’re what makes America great.