Monday, January 25, 2010

The Young George Washington Speaks

I hope you've been examining these maxims from G. Washington's early development and applying them to your own life. I mean, that's why I've taken the time to put them here. As I said in my last post, it's our privilege and responsibility to improve and grow - at any age. As Orrin Woodward says, "Not everything that happens in life will be a bowl of cherries, but with greater understanding comes greater wisdom to live by."  How are you doing at gaining greater understanding?

Here are the next 20:
(Ferry Farm, c. 1744)
61st Utter not base and frivilous things amongst grave and Learn'd Men nor very Difficult Questians or Subjects, among the Ignorant or things hard to be believed, Stuff not your Discourse with Sentences amongst your Betters nor Equals.

62nd Speak not of doleful Things in a Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not of Melancholy Things as Death and Wounds, and if others Mention them Change if you can the Discourse tell not your Dreams, but to your intimate Friend.

63rd A Man ought not to value himself of his Atchievements, or rare Qualities of wit; much less of his riches Virtue or Kindred.

64th Break not a Jest where none take pleasure in mirth Laugh not aloud, nor at all without Occasion, deride no mans Misfortune, tho' there Seem to be Some cause.

65th Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest Scoff at none although they give Occasion.

66th Be not froward but friendly and Courteous; the first to Salute hear and answer & be not Pensive when it's a time to Converse.

67th Detract not from others neither be excessive in Commanding.

68th Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice without being Ask'd and when desired do it briefly.

69th If two contend together take not the part of either unconstrained; and be not obstinate in your own Opinion, in Things indiferent be of the Major Side.

70th Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiours.

71st Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of Others and ask not how they came. What you may Speak in Secret to your Friend deliver not before others.

72nd Speak not in an unknown Tongue in Company but in your own Language and that as those of Quality do and not as the Vulgar; Sublime matters treat Seriously.

73rd Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.

74th When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and disturb not the Audience if any hesitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without desired, Interrupt him not, nor Answer him till his Speech be ended.

75th In the midst of Discourse ask [not of what one treateth] but if you Perceive any Stop because of your coming you may well intreat him gently to Proceed: If a Person of Quality comes in while your Conversing it's handsome to Repeat what was said before.

76th While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Discourse nor Approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.

77th Treat with men at fit Times about Business & Whisper not in the Company of Others.

78th Make no Comparisons and if any of the Company be Commended for any brave act of Vertue, commend not another for the Same.

79th Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. In Discoursing of things you Have heard Name not your Author always A Secret Discover not.

80th Be not Tedious in Discourse or in reading unless you find the Company pleased therewith.

Now, go back and read #s 65-70 and 73 again. I'll bet you know some folks who break #65 all the time - tearing people down with a snide comment and then defending themselves by saying they were "just kidding". Let me ask this: do you like being around them or being the target of their put-downs? No? Then do something about it!

Basic people skills like these are  sadly lacking in most of our socializing aren't they? Well, why not decide to be the pattern breaker? Yeah - YOU!

I recommend  that you read Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady's best selling book, "Launching a Leadership Revolution", particularly the section on servant leadership in the Level Three chapter. By the way, that chapter ends with a fascinating story about George Washington's servant leadership. Read that, and reflect back on these maxims that he made a part of his life.