"Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything. " -Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton is one of the most significant figures in American history. While most people recognize his name (after all, it’s been on our money since the Civil War), relatively few understand the extent to which he shaped our nation. He was born under inauspicious circumstances on St. Croix in 1755. Though orphaned and without influence, the community saw so much promise in Hamilton, that they sent him to New York for an education. Within four years of his arrival, he had earned a Bachelor’s degree, become a valued aide-de-camp to General Washington and a seasoned artillery officer. He also earned a reputation as a tireless pamphleteer—the ideal medium for someone with very strong beliefs. Following the Revolution, Hamilton pressed those political beliefs as a key framer of the Constitution. He argued persuasively for a strong federal government and a powerful executive branch both during the Constitutional Convention and as the principle author of the Federalist Papers. He advanced his strong economic beliefs when he became the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury. As Secretary he established the credit of the United States, launched a national bank, proposed a plan for import and excise taxes, and was instrumental in creating both the Coast Guard and Navy. Knowing what he stood for ultimately drove him out of government when he found himself at odds with both Jefferson and Adams. Hamilton, it seems, was a man who always knew where he stood—even on the day he was to duel Aaron Burr and decided in advance, “to do him no harm. "
The benefit of knowing where you stand is that you tend to get things done. That’s because knowing where you stand means you’ve already aligned your values, knowledge and intuition with laser-like precision. You can make good decisions because you act with confidence and conviction. You know who you are and what you believe. And you know why.
On the flip side, people who don’t know what they stand for are both easy and willing marks. They tend to be eager to please. They don’t like making decisions and prefer to go with the crowd—even when they really don’t like where the crowd is going. They find comfort in anonymity and avoid accountability like the plague. They also don’t get much done because they’re never sure what they want to do.
The truth is; most of us don’t spend much time thinking about what we stand for until we’re faced with a crisis. Then, with adrenalin pumping and stress approaching the panic level we try to sort things out and hope for the best. That’s when we often discover that our past practice hasn’t quite measured up to what we’d like it to be.
Can you say with clarity—right now—what you stand for as a leader, a spouse, a parent or a friend? If you asked someone else what you stand for, would their perception match yours? Do people respect your character, or think you are a character? Are you standing or falling? It might be good to know.
About the Author:
George Ebert is the President of Trinity River Seminars and Consulting, a firm specializing in the custom design and delivery of team building, personal growth and ethical development programs. Mr. Ebert is a highly sought after speaker, educator, and consultant with over thirty years experience in both the public and private sectors. He has presented widely throughout the Unites States. George is the author of the management cult classic, "Climbing From the Fifth Station: A guide to building teams that work!"