Yes, I Was an Odd Child

declarationIn case you didn’t already think I was a bit odd, there is a new piece of evidence: Each 4th of July, I read the Declaration of Independence.

It is a tradition I started when I was about ten year old and became interested in how a group of people decided to start a whole new nation. (Thank you, School House Rock).

So, it was not shocking that I became an American history major in college. (It was also not shocking that I didn’t quite fit in among most of my peers). Also, perhaps not surprising that I became an entrepreneur. To me, starting something was fascinating.

Think about it: “I have an idea: let’s start a country based on the concept of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!” Talk about big, hairy, audacious goals.

Each year in re-reading it, I find a new meaning in this document. And this year is no different.

In addition to marveling at how so much was said in just over 1,000 words (and how little I can say in ten times that amount…), I was drawn to the indictment portion of the document. A list of “repeated injuries and usurpations” of the colonists rights and liberties by King George the III proving that he was “deaf to the voice of justice” and serving as justification of the revolution to follow. In other words, this is why we are breaking up: it’s you.

Among the transgressions were:

  • Making laws that were detrimental to the common good.
  • Manipulating systems so others could not lead.
  • Shutting down any voices that disagreed with him and erecting barriers preventing others to check or balance his power.
  • Not allowing people to move freely and policing the population during times of peace.
  • Structuring systems so that everyone is dependent on his good will and whim.

It is a list that could just as easily be applied to bad management, narcissistic parenting or terrible coaching.

If we don’t want our employees, children or athletes to “declare their independence” (and by declaring their independence I mean ending our relationship) from us, we should check ourselves against the list that our Founding Fathers provided. Sure, they probably cannot say plundered their seas or ravished their coasts, but we might be destroying their lives if we are “unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

If, on the other hand, you find yourself under the rule of “a Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant” and that person is “deaf to the voice of justice,” it might serve you well to dissolve the bands that have connected you with that other.

In other words, declare your independence.

After all, it worked out pretty well for the Founding Fathers.