The Power Of Decisions
Is it possible that the power of a decision can change the course of history?
Not only is it possible, but the power a decision DID change the course of
history, and this same the power of decision will change your life for the
An analysis of several hundred people who have accumulated fortunes greater than twenty
million dollars reveals that every one of them has the habit of reaching decisions promptly, and of changing
these decisions slowly. This same analysis also reveals that people who fail to get the things out of life
that they want, have the habit of reaching decisions, if at all, very slowly, and of changing these decisions
quickly and often.
You will find more detail about the power of decisions and how to make them in my upcoming
book “Change Your Mind and Change Your Life”, but right now let’s go back in history over two hundred years
and revisit events that changed the world forever. As you watch closely, you will discover how this same
power can be used to change your own life in any way that you desire.
When we read the history of the American Revolution, we are told that George Washington was
the Father of our Country, that it was he who won our freedom, while the truth is that Washington was only an
accessory after the fact, because victory for his armies had been insured long before Lord Cornwallis
I don’t in any way mean to reduce the credit that Washington deserves, but his victory would
not have been possible without the decisions that were made by other men years earlier.
The story begins
There was still snow on the ground early in the afternoon in Boston, March 5, 1770. As usual,
British soldiers were patrolling the streets and by their presence, the citizens felt threatened. Normally
the Colonists would go on their way and complain in private, but for some reason on this early spring
afternoon, a confrontation erupted. Because the colonists resented armed men marching in their midst, they
began to express their resentment openly, hurling stones as well as epithets, at the marching soldiers, until
the commanding officer gave orders, ‘Fix bayonets. . . . Charge!’
The battle was on and the result was the death and injury of dozens of Colonists. The incident
aroused such resentment that the Provincial Assembly, (made up of prominent colonists), called a meeting for
the purpose of taking definite action. Two of the members of that Assembly were, John Hancock, and Samuel
Adams - names which are still famous today! (I’m not sure they would approve of their names being used to
market insurance and beer.)They spoke up courageously, and declared that a move must be made to eject all
British soldiers from Boston.
This decision, in the minds of only two men, is really the beginning of the freedom which
every American citizen enjoys today. There were many other decisions and events which followed, but this was
the beginning. It is critical that you notice that the DECISION of these two men called for CERTAINTY, and
COURAGE, because it was dangerous.
A decision that changed history
Before the Assembly adjourned, Samuel Adams was appointed to call on the Governor of the
Province, Hutchinson, and demand the withdrawal of the British troops. At his meeting with Hutchinson, the
request was granted. The troops were removed from Boston, but the incident was not closed. The attitude of
the troops had caused a situation destined to change the entire trend of civilization. Strange, isn’t it, how
the great changes, such as the American Revolution, and wars, often have their beginnings in circumstances
which seem unimportant? I suspect that the same is true in your life.
It is interesting, also, to realize that these important changes began in the form of a
DEFINITE DECISION in the minds of a relatively small number of people. Few of us know the history of our
country well enough to realize that John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Richard Henry Lee (of the Province of
Virginia) were the real Fathers of our Country.
Richard Henry Lee became an important factor in this story because he and Samuel Adams
frequently exchanged letters, sharing their fears and their hopes concerning the welfare of the people of
their Provinces. From this practice, Adams conceived the idea that a mutual exchange of letters between all
thirteen Colonies might help to bring about the coordination of effort and solve their problems.
Two years after the clash with the soldiers in Boston (March '72), Adams presented this idea
to the Assembly, in the form of a motion that a Correspondence Committee would be established among the
Colonies. Each Colony would appoint a correspondent, ‘for the purpose of friendly cooperation for the
betterment of the Colonies of British America.’
At this time, there was no intention of revolution, only a desire to improve the Colonies
relationship with the British King. However, a decision by the King changed all of that.
The king appointed William Gage to replace Hutchinson as the Governor of Massachusetts. One of
the new Governor's first acts was to send a messenger to call on Samuel Adams, to try to stop his opposition
- by fear.
A fateful conversation
You can best understand the spirit of what happened by quoting the conversation between Col.
Fenton, (the messenger sent by Gage), and Adams. Col. Fenton:
“I have been authorized by Governor Gage, to assure you, Mr. Adams, that the Governor has been
empowered to confer upon you such benefits as would be satisfactory, upon the condition that you engage to
cease in your opposition to the measures of the government. It is the Governor's advice to you, Sir, not to
incur the further displeasure of his majesty. Your conduct has been such as makes you liable to penalties of
an Mt of Henry VIII, by which persons can be sent to England for trial for treason, or misprision of treason,
at the discretion of a governor of a province. But, by changing your political course, you will not only
receive great personal advantages, but you will make your peace with the King.”
This was a clear attempt by the governor to resolve his problem by bribing Adams, so now Adams
had the choice of two DECISIONS. He could cease his opposition, and receive the benefit of the personal
bribes, or he could continue, and run the risk of being hanged.
Clearly, the time had come when Adams was forced to reach a DECISION which could cost him his
life. Most people would have difficulty with a decision like this and would have probably said “I’ll have to
think about it”, or sent back an evasive reply, but not Adams. He insisted that Col. Fenton's promise, that
the Colonel would deliver to the Governor the answer exactly as Adams would give it to him. Adams' answer
“Then you may tell Governor Gage that I trust I have long since made my peace with the King of
Kings. No personal consideration shall induce me to abandon the righteous cause of my Country. And, tell
Governor Gage it is the advice of Samuel Adams to him, no longer to insult the feelings of an exasperated
When Governor Gage received Adams' caustic reply, he flew into a rage, and issued a
proclamation which read, ‘I do, hereby, in his majesty's name, offer and promise his most gracious pardon to
all persons who shall forthwith lay down their arms, and return to the duties of peaceable subjects,
excepting only from the benefit of such pardon, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, whose offences are of too
flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration but that of condign punishment.’
Now they were really in trouble. The threat of the irate Governor forced the two men to reach
another DECISION, equally as dangerous. They hurriedly called a secret meeting of their staunchest followers.
After the meeting had been called to order, Adams locked the door, placed the key in his pocket, and informed
all present that it was critical that a Congress of the Colonists be organized, and that no one should leave
the room until a decision had been made.
As you might expect, great excitement followed. Many speakers were concerned about the almost
certain negative consequences of such an action. Some expressed grave doubt as to the wisdom of so definite a
decision in defiance of the governor and the king. Locked in that room were two men who seemed to be immune
to fear and blind to the possibility of failure. John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Because of the strength of
their decisions, the others were persuaded that, through the Correspondence Committee, plans should be made
for a meeting of the First Continental Congress, to be held in Philadelphia, September 5, 1774.
The most important date
Remember this date because it is more important than July 4, 1776. If there had been no
DECISION to hold a Continental Congress, there could have been no signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Before the first meeting of the new Congress, another leader, in a different section of the country was
working on a document entitled ‘Summary View of the Rights of British America.’ His name was Thomas
Jefferson, of the Province of Virginia, whose relationship to Lord Dunmore, (representative of the Crown in
Virginia), was as strained as that of Hancock and Adams with their Governor.
Shortly after his famous Summary of Rights was published, Jefferson was informed that he was
subject to prosecution for high treason against the king. Inspired instead of defeated by the threat, one of
Jefferson's colleagues, Patrick Henry, boldly spoke his mind, concluding his remarks with a sentence which
shall remain forever a classic, ‘If this be treason, then make the most of it.’
It is these men these who, without power, without authority, without military strength,
without money, began the process that created the United States of America. The only power they had was the
power of their decisions and the certainty of belief that comes from making decisions.
The First Continental Congress was formed and met at various times for two years - until on
June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee arose, addressed the Chair, and to the startled Assembly made this
“Gentlemen, I make the motion that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free
and independent states, that they be absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all
political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be totally
Action, not talk
This wasn’t just a call for talk, it was a call for action and the radical nature of this
statement caused a huge commotion, so an animated discussion began. Finally, after days of argument, Henry
Lee again took the floor, and declared, in a clear, firm voice, ‘Mr. President, we have discussed this issue
for days. It is the only course for us to follow. Why, then Sir, do we longer delay? Why still deliberate?
Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise, not to devastate and to conquer, but to
reestablish the reign of peace, and of law. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living
example of freedom, that may exhibit a contrast, in the felicity of the citizen, to the ever increasing
Before his motion was finally voted upon, Lee was called back to Virginia, because of serious
family illness, but before leaving, he placed his cause in the hands of his friend, Thomas Jefferson, who
promised not to give up until the motion was passed. Shortly thereafter, the President of the Congress
(Hancock), appointed Jefferson as Chairman of a Committee to draw up a Declaration of Independence. The
Committee labored long and hard on a document which would mean, when accepted by the Congress, that every man
who signed it, would be signing his own death warrant, should the Colonies lose in the fight with Great
Britain, which was sure to follow. The document was drawn, and on June 28, the original draft was read before
the Congress. For several more days it was discussed, altered, and made ready. On July 4, 1776, Thomas
Jefferson stood before the Assembly, and fearlessly read the most momentous DECISION ever placed upon
‘When in the course of human events it is necessary for one people to dissolve the political
bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and
equal station to which the laws of Nature, and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions
of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. . .’
When Jefferson finished, the document was voted upon, accepted, and signed by the fifty-six
men, every one staking his own life upon his DECISION to write his name. By that DECISION came into existence
a nation destined to bring to mankind forever, the privilege of making DECISIONS.
It was these decisions which later insured the success of Washington's armies, because the
spirit of that decision was in the heart of every soldier who fought with him, and served as a power which
recognizes no such thing as failure.
When you analyze the events which led to the Declaration of Independence, it is clear that the
United States was born as the result of a DECISION made first by two men, and later by another DECISION made
by fifty-six men. They had no political power, no resources, no army, only the power of their decisions. This
same power is available to you. Now.
What decisions have you been postponing? What decision do you need to make today to change
your life forever? You almost certainly already know what you should do. Now is the time to make your
decision and change your life for the better.
You may be scared of your decision, but definiteness of
decision always requires courage, sometimes very great courage. The fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of
Independence that day staked their lives on the DECISION to sign that document. When you reach a DEFINITE
DECISION to obtain a particular job, start your own business, enter or repair a relationship, or anything else
that will change your life for the better, you are not staking you life on that decision, but you are staking
your future. Financial independence, riches, relationships, and freedom from worry are all within your reach
when you use this power of decision.
When you desire your goals in the same spirit that Samuel Adams desired freedom for the
Colonies, you are sure to reach them.
Your destiny is shaped by your decisions, and now is the