John Adams was born 272 years ago today. He was one of the founding fathers of our nation, a member of the Continental Congress, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the first U.S. Ambassador to a foreign country (The Netherlands), the first U.S. Ambassador to England, the first vice-president and the second president of the United States.

Adams was the primary author of the Massachusetts Constitution, which was the first to feature a bicameral (two houses) legislature, and which later served a model for the U.S. and many other state constitutions. Thus Adams uniquely understood the fragile relationship that existed between the Constitution and the citizens when he said:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.

John Adams (b. 10/30/1735 – d. 7/4/1826)

Our government is adequate only to the extent that the citizens are willing to govern themselves. This principle, I think, can also be applied to any organization, team, or business. The strength of the organization depends on the integrity of its members, and their commitment to maintain the organization. No organizational structure can withstand unbridled avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry.