On this Independence Day, not only do we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but it also marks the anniversary of the passing of President John Adams and President Thomas Jefferson. They died within five hours of each other on this date in 1826, the 50th year of the country they helped to found.

Adams and Jefferson were key patriots in the revolutionary effort and both contributed immensely to establish the democracy we have today. But after years of collaboration, the two differed significantly on how to run the country and they became bitter adversaries…

…until they chose to focus more on their commonalities than disagreements. Soon after Jefferson’s presidency, the two rekindled their friendship and became regular correspondents for the 14 years until their death.

I’m sure it was difficult for Adams to pen the initial letter to Jefferson offering an olive branch of reconciliation, but both men benefitted because he did. This Fourth of July, take a lesson from two of our country’s Founding Fathers and take the first step to find the higher ground in one of your relationships.

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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