Those that signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 are known as the Founding Fathers of America. These 56 men, and many others since, have put their lives on the line for the freedom of our country.

July 4th, also known as Independence Day, is a time for all of us Americans to remember the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.  It's also a great time to remember the example our Founding Fathers set. 

To commemorate Independence Day, here are a few wise words from some of the most well-known Founding Fathers:

“Those who are feared are hated.” – Benjamin Franklin

Franklin had his own system of 13 virtues that he followed to develop his character. Follow the example that he set and be someone that people are happy to work with.

If people are afraid of you, then instead of talking to you about issues, they may ignore it or try to resolve it alone. This could end up making problems worse than before. Have an open door policy and be welcoming.

“People who are wrapped up in themselves make small packages.” – Benjamin Franklin

There is no limit on experience. Realize that you’ll never have all the answers and take every opportunity to learn from people and listen to what they say. Business people thrive on their network, so be sure that you remain humble and open to new relationships.

“The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” – John Hancock

As mentioned, business is all about your network. Building rapport within that network is important. When you have a significant number of people within your network, and those people respect you, your business will soar. People are influenced by the people they like, so be honest and take time to foster new relationships.

“There, I guess King George will be able to read that without his spectacles!” – John Hancock

This is arguably the most famous quote from the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Hancock was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in, even when it threatened his life.

If you decide to do something, give it your all. If you aren’t willing to put all you have behind your actions or passions in business, then you should reconsider your idea. Confidence is key.

“The true source of our sufferings has been our timidity.” – John Adams

Similar to what we just learned from Hancock, Adams reminds us that going through life afraid will cause the most grief. Do not fear being judged by others, because their thoughts are their own.

“Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.” – John Adams

Pick and choose your battles. Not everything is worth the fight, so weigh the costs and benefits before launching into conflict.

Investigate alternative solutions to the issue. If there is a more peaceful option, pursue it and avoid unnecessary fighting at all costs.

“Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.” – Thomas Jefferson

We’re all good people, but even the best of us face an ethical dilemma now and then. As the main author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson certainly considered how people would react.

If you can’t decide if what you are about to say or do is moral or not, ask yourself if you would mind having the entire world see it. If the answer is yes, then you might want to reevaluate.

“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” – Thomas Jefferson

Getting upset and angry reflects inabilities and weaknesses. If you’re an executive, the people you lead will form opinions based on your reaction. It is important to remain calm and able to perform. If you find yourself in an argument, typically the people who act out only make matters worse for themselves.

“You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it” – Thomas Jefferson

You are so lucky to be able to live free and pursue your dreams. Stop sitting around and waiting for something to change. Go out and be the change! 

Which Founding Father do you admire most? Let us know!

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.