In the face of near-impossible odds, George Washington–tasked with leading his relatively untrained, beaten-down, militiamen demoralized by the deaths of 2,000 from disease–ultimately turned the tide with his victory over the British at the battle of Princeton.
How did he succeed in his greatest test of character and courage?
Washington’s unequivocal moral integrity earned him the trust of his men and inspired them to go on to defeat England’s armies in the Revolutionary War.
Former Wyoming US Senator, Alan Simpson describes the importance of integrity best:
If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”
Integrity is basing your decisions on ethical principles. It’s not rationalizing or making excuses. It requires reasoning and judgment, not emotion and noise.
Integrity doesn’t sit on the sidelines in the face of moral obstacles. It speaks when others remain silent.
It’s standing up for another when everyone is against you . . . hard.
It’s standing up for truth . . . harder still.
Integrity inspires. It leads by example. It stands on the conviction that honesty is non-partisan, non-negotiable, and unequivocal.
Integrity determines who we are and what we stand for. It requires rock-solid honesty, responsibility, and the self-discipline necessary to resist pressure from others to engage in actions that we know are wrong. It’s the character and courage to do the right thing despite the obstacles.
Washington’s men trusted him because he told them the truth about conditions, cared about them, and emboldened their spirit to achieve success.
Long after his death, Daniel Webster, New Hampshire’s representative, and statesman wrote, “America has furnished to the world the character of Washington, and if our American institutions had done nothing else, that alone would have entitled them to the respect of mankind.”
Integrity is what America needs most right now.
What will it take to return to the kind of unimpeachable integrity exemplified by Washington amid near-impossible odds today?
It will take men and women of goodwill, courage, and commitment.