#1333 Mom Says: “Be Virtuous”

Abigail Adams and Heroic Mothers Unite

Abigail Adams was one of the Heroic Founding Mothers of the United States of America.

I’m convinced that she and Benjamin Franklin and their families would be part of our Heroic movement if they were alive today.


Because they were intensely passionate about cultivating virtue in their lives and in the lives of their children.


I’m pretty sure (😉) they would have preferred to have their kids on the soon-to-be-launched social features for our Heroic training platform cultivating virtue together rather than on Tik Tok watching another absurd 20-second video.

What data supports that hypothesis?

Glad you asked…

That’s the subject of Today’s +1.

Have you ever seen this quote from Abigail?

“These are the times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman.”

After reading a version of that in Warren Bennis’ great book On Becoming a Leader, I looked it up to find its source.

It’s from a letter she wrote to her son John Quincy Adams in January 1780–almost 243 (!) years ago. He was on a trip to France with his father to elicit support for our Revolutionary War. (Thanks, France!! 🇫🇷)

I looked up how old John Quincy Adams was in 1780.

He was 12.

Check out the letter. It’s worth reading.

I printed it out and marked it all up because it was so good. (See my notes below.)

As you’ll see if you spend a few minutes reading her brilliant letter, Abigail starts out the letter by basically telling her son that she made him go to France with his dad and brother even though he was whining about it. 😂

Seriously. It’s so good to see this great woman (a true Founding Mother of America) talking to a future president like, well, he was acting like a 12-year-old. 🤓

Then we get to the quote that made me find the letter.

But get this…

Bennis actually MISQUOTED Abigail.

He said that she said: “These are hard times in which a genius should wish to live. . . . Great necessities call forth great leaders.”

But that’s not *actually* what she said.

She didn't say great necessities call forth great LEADERS.

She said: “Great necessities call forth great VIRTUES.”

Which, for the record, MAKES THEM GREAT LEADERS.

Note: Both John AND his dad would become future U.S. Presidents. Virtue for the win!


Of course, that struck me (goosebumps) because our ENTIRE app is architected to help us operationalize the fact that ancient wisdom and modern science agree that the ultimate purpose of life is to express the best version of yourself (in service to something bigger than yourself!) by living with virtue.

And, of course, we believe the historically significant challenges we are facing DEMAND that each of us step up and show up as the best, most Heroic versions of ourselves.

Which is why I was even more struck by the rest of her letter.

When I read THIS passage, I could literally SEE Abigail and her husband John (who, in 1780, was the Ambassador to France in what was the fifth of an eight-year Revolutionary War!) and their kids using Heroic to commit to and then hit virtuous targets together all day every day (especially when they were so far away from each other!):

“I cannot fulfill the whole of my duty towards you, if I close this Letter, without reminding you of a failing which calls for a strict attention and watchful care to correct. You must do it for yourself. You must curb that impetuosity of temper, for which I have frequently chid you, but which properly directed may be productive of great good. I know you are capable of these exertions, with pleasure I observed my advice was not lost upon you. If you indulge yourself in the practise of any foible or vice in youth, it will gain strength with your years and become your conqueror.

The strict and inviolable regard you have ever paid to truth, gives me pleasing hopes that you will not swerve from her dictates, but add justice, fortitude, and every Manly Virtue which can adorn a good citizen, do Honor to your Country, and render your parents supremely happy, particularly your ever affectionate Mother,”

Then I smiled when I realized that another beloved Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, would have probably created something similar to our app to track HIS virtues (with his friends and family!) if he was alive today.

Know this…

These are times in which Heroes would wish to live.

As we set out to make 2023 truly Heroic, may we remember that it is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station that great characters are formed.

Remember: “Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engulf the Heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake to Life, and form the Character of the Hero and the Statesman.”

With Love + Wisdom + Self-Mastery + Courage and profound Gratitude for all of your support in helping us create a noble and virtuous world, I say…

Heroes unite!!!

Day 1. All in.


P.S. Here’s the print out version of the letter with my notes on her wisdom…

Brian's notes on Abigail Adams' letter.

You can zoom in here.

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