A few years ago (pre-blogging) I really enjoyed reading the book “John Adams” by David McCullough, so it’s been no surprise that I’ve been enthralled by the HBO miniseries of the same name that is in the middle of its seven episode run.
The courage, intelligence, eloquence, and tenacity of Adams and our founding fathers was never so vividly illustrated than in the re-enactments that have been portrayed on the screen.
I have to admit I was nearly in tears watching the final deliberations over whether or not the colonies would declare independence, stirred by the passion for freedom and liberty but balanced by the fear of what was to come from their decision.
I was particularly impressed by Adams, who again and again would remind his fellow congress attendees that the facts were speaking for themselves – the British had already essentially declared war on the colonies by their words and actions against them. There was really no choice but to stand up to the tyranny and declare independence.
It wasn’t the first time Adams publicly convinced other people that facts should rule – in 1770 he conducted the defense of the British soldiers accused of murder in the Boston Massacre, an almost impossible task given the Bostonians’ hatred of British rule.
In his summation to the jury, he said this:
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
He won that case, by the power and persuasiveness of his words, and (of course), the facts.
What a valuable lesson to take from him – it can be applied to our world of business by this maxim – “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it“. That’s what I thought of after the impact of Adams’ words sunk in.
No matter how well we THINK things are going, or we HEAR things are going, if the facts say otherwise – the facts MUST rule. So we must generate the appropriate facts in our businesses that guide our decision making, and temper any feelings or emotions that may obfuscate those facts and put us down the wrong path.
Easier said than done, but if we can stick to our principles like John Adams did so well, we have nothing to worry about.
Take my advice and read the book and watch the miniseries – you will be enriched and inspired too!