Benjamin Franklin, at 81, was the oldest and the most widely accomplished delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention.
His presence represented the final public service in a remarkable career as a scientist, author, diplomat and statesman. His reputation in Europe, wrote John Adams, was “more universal than that of Leibnitz or Newton, Frederick or Voltaire, and his character was more beloved and esteemed than any or all of them.” Although he was physically feeble, Franklin attended most of the sessions of the Constitutional Convention and was troubled by the recurring signs of opposition to the draft of the Constitution. In a notable address toward the close of the Convention, he gently urged the dissenting delegates to put aside their legitimate criticisms (he had several), and recognize the version before them as the best compromise possible.
On the final day, as the last delegates were signing the document, Franklin pointed toward the detailed carving of the sun on the back of the Convention president George Washington’s chair and said, “I have often…in the course of the session…looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether is was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun.”
A few years ago I read an article about the high-speed train that had just been completed between Beijing and Shanghai. The reporter was asking one of the lead engineers for the project why the government would spend such a huge amount of money to build the 800 mile rail system. The engineer replied that it was for the good of the people. The reporter challenged that only a small percentage of the Chinese people would ever ride on the train. The engineer then suggested that the rail line would be a huge benefit for the economy. Again, the reporter challenged that reason due to the vastness of the country and such a small geographic area served by the new railroad. Finally in desperation and frustration, the engineer blurted out, “We built it to be like America.”
We live in a great country, the greatest country in the entire world. The constitution written and signed by our founding fathers established a government that would allow its citizenry to pursue their dreams and goals, not in opposition to, but with the support of government. Those freedoms allow each of us to enjoy the fruits of our labors and give us the hope and knowledge that the harder we work, the greater will be our rewards. This system of free enterprise, that was fought for so bitterly in our struggle for independence and each war thereafter in support of our freedom, provides the framework for each of us to earn a living and to provide for our families and ourselves. As we honor those founding fathers, as well as those who have given their lives for the freedom we enjoy today, let each of us ponder the insight of Benjamin Franklin during the final day of the Constitutional Convention, when he declared that it is a rising, not setting, sun shining over this great nation.
Now, as we pursue our careers in sales, be mindful of all that has taken place to allow us the privilege of living and selling in the greatest nation in the world. Be your best at all you do. Work to serve your customers by providing them the best you have to offer in both product and service. Work as hard in your sales career as those who came before us worked at establishing the freedoms we enjoy in this great nation.