Gitomer: Building on Franklin's values
Friday, June 06, 2014 6:00 AM
Ben Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of 13 virtues, which he developed at age 20 (in 1726) and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life.
His autobiography lists his 13 virtues as:
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; i.e., 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, cloaths (sic) 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.
Franklin didn’t try to work on them all at once. Instead, he would work on one and only one each week, leaving all others to their ordinary chance. Although Ben did not live completely by his virtues, and by his own admission fell short of them many times, he believed the attempt at living them made him a better man.
In his autobiography, Franklin listed and wrote about the virtues, “I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit.”
Not wanting to in any way infringe on the genius of Ben Franklin, I’d like to offer some of today’s characteristics of virtue and add to Ben’s list.
Think about each of these virtues as it relates to you, your self-disciplines, your actions and your ethics.
Were he alive today, Ben’s virtues might have included:
• Truthfulness. Your ability to be truthful to others and truthful to yourself.
• Trustworthiness. Be trustworthy and trusting. Trust others until they’re proved untrustworthy. Be trustworthy by example.
• Ethics. The right way you conduct yourself in business and life.
• Speed. Response in today’s world is immediate. How immediate are you?
• Reliablity. People want to deal with reliable people. How reliable are you?
• Loyalty. Getting loyalty because you earned it. Giving loyalty because it’s your philosophy.
• Responsibility. Not just responsible to others, but both to yourself and for yourself.
• Consistency. Making the highest and best decision – all the time.
• Independence. Not a follower to be “safe,” but a self-ruler of your time and fate.
• Faith. Not just religion; faith in people, faith in family and spirituality of self.
• Confidence. Confidence is evident often without saying a word. Radiate yours.
• Enthusiasm. Generate the inner spark of self-induced energy that lights up a room and the people in it.
• Respect. Things and people deserve initial respect. Give it to get it.
• Kindness. Every ounce of kindness is worth a fortune to those on the receiving end of yours.
Wow. Those are some values. How many of them are yours?
Why not tackle one a week?
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