On May 4, 1775, George Washington climbed into his coach and began the ride from his home of Mount Vernon to Philadelphia, the largest city in the Colonies.
The Second Continental Congress was scheduled to convene on May 10th, meeting under increased scrutiny and mounting tension considering the events at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts Bay. The simmering relationship between England and her restless territories across the Atlantic hissed and popped with the bloodshed in Middlesex county, nearing the rolling boil that would lead to America’s Declaration of Independence the following summer.
With news of other skirmishes arriving, such as the Green Mountain Boys’ capture of Fort Ticonderoga under the command of Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold, delegations from every corner of the British-held continent opened discussions of the next step in the Pennsylvania State House.
Of the 50 or so men in attendance, only one entered the hall in military uniform.
He was fully 6’3″ at a time when the majority of men reached only 5’7″. His graying auburn hair was pulled neatly behind his head into a sculpted braid. His blue coat fitted snug across his broad shoulders, with light glinting off the epaulets designating his rank. Black boots, polished to a high shine, rose to his knees over the legs of his crisp ivory pants. This, in a hall overflowing with lawyers, businessmen and farmers, was the definition of “command presence.”
And every bit of it was intentional.
Washington desperately hoped to tie his reputation to military success, so much so that he’d foolishly led a group of men into provoking the French Army two decades earlier with disastrous results. He’d sought every opportunity to secure command positions in various militias since then and, on the cusp of a war that would define history, he must have sensed the moment to cement a favorable legacy.
He was elected unanimously to be Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army after being the first–and likely only–name mentioned.
Why? He certainly laid the foundation by exhibiting a calm, level-headed demeanor during the First Contintental Congress in 1774. His interactions amongst fellow politicians were typically regarded as very fair and measured. He carried himself with a “martial dignity” that would make a king standing next to him seem a “valet de chambre,” according to one Philadelphian.
The uniform sealed the deal.
As you go into the world each morning, you’re making a declaration of what you would be. What are you wearing physically and mentally? Your attire and attitude are the calling cards of your future. The way you dress on the outside affects the inside and vice versa. Choose carefully, whether you’d be the debonair type or fat, bald and studly.
Every day, take a hint from George Washington: stand quietly amongst your peers and boldly tell them what you’re going to be.