In reading Brad Meltzer's new book, The First Conspiracy, I was struck by the beginning of the third chapter. In it, Meltzer describes how George Washington learned from his older brother that personal values - honor, integrity, character - were assets that were more important to success than inherited wealth or a title.
Washington wrote to Alexander Hamilton, "I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man." And to his aid Joseph Reed, "I have but one capital object in view, I could wish to make my conduct coincide with the wishes of mankind, as far as I can, consistently."
Washington's focus on character served him well. He married Martha Custis (a wealthy widow), was elected:
- To a seat in Virginia's House of Burgesses (which then appointed him as a delegate to represent the colony at the Continental Congress)
- To command the Continental Army
- As first President of the United States
One might in fact say, that Washington's success was largely a result of his consistent efforts to act with integrity. Efforts that earned him the respect - and later adulation - of others.
Meltzer's description of Washington's character has re-emphasized for me the importance of honesty and integrity in our business transactions. Reputation is really all any one or any company has. And reputations stick with us. Others will remember our honesty, or any untruths we might have told, many years later.
So, like Washington, I plan on striving every day to work with my customers, prospects and colleagues honestly and honorably. My hope is that others will do the same - and that our honesty and integrity will result in great success for all of us.