Somehow, July 4th has surprised us. It seems like yesterday we were celebrating 2015’s arrival, and today, halfway to 2016, we celebrate the United States. Today we remember that we are a nation founded not only by ideals but by brave, fierce leaders. So who better to learn from this Independence Day than the very individuals who lead us into the start of a powerful nation! These four quotes represent some important aspects of good leadership. Take a look:

  1. “Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”–George Washington: No matter whether in business, in church, or in your personal life, the people you bring near to you will define it every bit as crucially as the decisions you make alone. As the commander of the under-dog military of the revolution and eventually the fledgling united colonies, George Washington could not afford to rely solely on his own character. Fortunately for us, he knew how to gather his influences and form his team.
  2. “Determined never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.”–Thomas Jefferson: If anything, America is famous for its workaholism, and this might seem like a strange quote in light of that (especially on what for many of us is a welcome day of rest). However, it’s important to note that Jefferson isn’t only talking about work. He stands as an example of one who took his freedom seriously, by pursuing his passions and not letting his valuable time slip away. His achievements include a still-famous wine collection, a house he designed himself, and a powerful influence over the laws and ideals of our country.
  3. “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.”–Patrick Henry: Get comfortable with your mistakes. Accept them and keep them right next to you at all times. Your personal experience and the experience of those who have gone before you are valuable guides to your future. As a leader, you influence the future of others in some way or another. Treat this responsibility with care as you share your experiences with them—all while allowing your past to light the way to your future. This is no timid quote – Armed with that experience, the man who said this is most famous for being one of the revolutions boldest, most fearless mouthpieces.
  4. The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.”–John Hancock: A pro tip from one of America’s most successful early businessmen, as well as governor. Influence is really the heart of leadership. No matter what sort of leadership role you are walking in—parent, teacher, employer, pastor—you are influencing how others live. So you need to learn how to make this influence work for you. And you need to get along with others so that you can be inspiring and influencing them to greater things. Study personality type tools like Myers Briggs. Have a listening ear. Be open to what those you’re leading have to say. Through working to understand others, you learn to get along with people. And through relating well to others, you learn what keys to turn to cause action. You learn how to influence.

Happy Independence Day, everyone! I hope you are inspired as leaders to go out and influence the world for better. May your day be filled with friends, family and freedom.

Let me know what your favorite tradition for July 4th is in the comment section!

Join me every Friday for topics on leadership and self development.