The Benjamin Franklin Method for Self-Improvement
Although at times real, lasting transformation may seem like an impossible task, I'm reminded of the power of belief, discipline and persistence in building character and leadership while revisiting Benjamin Franklin, a dipomat and one of the founding fathers of the United States. He began working on a system for self-improvement when he was only 20 years old.
In his autobiography he outlines the program he designed to cultivate his personal virtues. To do so, he made a list of 13 values he found desirable. Then, he added them to a table with a column for each day of the week. He tracked his progress daily, marking his performance with a mark or a cross when he didn't follow through. The goal was to have an empty table without any marking.
|Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues|
|1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.|
|2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.|
|3. Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.|
|4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.|
|5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; waste nothing.|
|6. Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.|
|7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.|
|8. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.|
|9. Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.|
|10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.|
|11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.|
|12. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.|
|13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.|
Here's what my own version looks like today:
What are the values and traits you would like to cultivate? Do you have a system in place to help you make progress?
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