Here in Utah, we celebrate two significant holidays in July. Both have roots in lofty declarations made by men with big dreams. The first holiday, Independence Day, is of course celebrated by the entire country. The second holiday is Pioneer Day, a regional celebration.
As we all know, in July of 1776, a bunch of men who were tired of being treated like children by the mother country, made a declaration of independence. Among the things they declared, besides a long laundry list of complaints against King George, was “. . . That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States . . .” And just like that, they formed a new nation—after a war or two with Great Britain. The first Brexit.
Pioneer Day, like Independence Day, also has roots in a declaration. On the 24th of July in 1847, Brigham Young, leader of the Mormon pioneers, declared, “This is the right place. Drive on,” as he viewed the Salt Lake Valley from the bed of his wagon (he had a case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever at the time.)
In Utah, we celebrate Pioneer Day by closing all the state offices. Many businesses also close for the day. There is a big parade in the blistering hot July sun with people dressed like pioneers standing on floats. Everyone sweats profusely and after the parade, go back to their air-conditioned homes—as it should be. Too bad the actual pioneers didn’t have air-conditioning. They would have really appreciated it.
Declarations give direction and channel resources. In recent years a consortium of technology companies decided to declare the Wasatch Front, The Silicon Slopes. So now Utah is on the lists of silicon places; Silicon Forest, Prairie, Valley and Alley among the group—and Beverly Hills—not really. Silicon is used a little differently there. The results of this declaration have been an increase in awareness of Utah’s high-tech industries, more high tech companies being attracted to the region, and an increase in capital flowing into the state.
Declarations can be powerful forces in making things happen. Take New Year’s resolutions, which are a declaration of individual intent. In a study by psychology Professor John Norcross at the University of Scranton, Norcross notes that, “those who make resolutions are still 10 times more likely to successfully change their behavior than those who do not. . . Resolutions deserve a little more respect.”
Making declarations of intent, backed by action, is powerful. Just, don’t forget that part about taking action. Our Nation’s Founding Fathers were willing to go to war—and did. Brigham Young didn’t leave it at, “this is the right place,” he said to “drive on.”
What do you want to accomplish in your life or at your job—something that will make a difference going forward? Why wait for January to make a resolution? July is a great month for making important declarations—and taking vacations. So go on vacation, clear your head, and make a declaration with the intent to do what it will take to improve your life and business. Who knows what will become of it?