How do you celebrate your independence?

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Disappointing 4th of July fireworks in San Diego harbor, 2012

July 4, 2012, was the 236th birthday of the United States of America – the day Americans celebrate independence. If you haven’t heard, operator error caused an entire 25-minute fireworks show in San Diego, California, to explode in 30 seconds of disappointment.  Thankfully no one was hurt.

Some of the San Diego citizens over-reacted with outrage. But others talked of their pent up emotions of red, white and blue pride that needed to be expressed by the fireworks. I know how they feel:  I love 4th of July fireworks as an expression of joy and freedom. And I love to sing along with Lee Greenwood at the top of my lungs: “I’m proud to be an American…”

But our American pride is certainly being tested these days. Instant internet in our smart phones has created more ways to shine light on greed and injustice. At home and abroad, there seems to be swelling around a USA ‘black eye.’

Certainly times have been better…Budweiser is now owned by the Europeans. Our national debt is owned by China. The schools are hurting and more of the poor in America are homeless and hungry.  I could go on and on.  But I choose to ask the question this way: who in the world would I trade places with today?

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My niece Kelly Colvin Smith, with Anders (5 months old) outside the US Embassy in London. Photo by papa Brian Smith

My niece and nephew, Kelly and Brian Smith, live and work in Oxford, England — Brian is a physicist on the staff at Oxford University.  For much of the past year their papers and passports were lost in the thousand-year-old British bureaucracy.  They were earnestly trying to gain citizenship for their first-born child Anders John Smith. Without their papers, they couldn’t be recognized by the US Embassy. Anders was a man without a country and they couldn’t travel ‘home.’ It’s reasonable to say they were longing for red, white and blue 4th of July fireworks.

Today, I’m celebrating the freedom – and the right I exercise by writing my own blog every week and running my own business.  I still believe my client’s businesses will succeed.  I still believe my kids and their kids have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. And I still see an American spirit where people actually think we can make a difference when we work together.

And yet, as our offspring are facing a crippling national debt, it’s reasonable to ask the question: Are the ‘good old days’ ahead of us or behind us? Is this really a time to celebrate?  As leaders, there is only one choice…we have to believe the best days are ahead of us.  Starting today!  Why would anyone follow a leader who didn’t believe?

Good leaders embrace our challenges as part of our independence.  And we celebrate the small wins everyday that help us believe our best days are ahead of us.

Drop me a note: how do you celebrate your independence?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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