I started reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Benjamin Franklin. It is a wonderful read and it has given me the idea for my first blog of the New Year. The topic for this month is Personal Growth and Balance. We all seem to fall in line with New Year’s resolutions, especially if we overindulge during the holiday season. I know I fell off the wagon.
Franklin’s thinking and writing inspired me as I thought about his ruminations on the topic of virtue from a personal and professional perspective. I have always believed that one is very hard pressed to separate business from your personal life. One, I believe, always casts its light on the other. They are truly inseparable. Franklin’s writings serve as an inspiration for all to become more diligent, more focused, and thus make our actions more useful and our citizenship more virtuous.
I would love to hear what you think and if you agree with me that these virtues can be applied to how you live your personal and professional lives with a successful feeling of accomplishment.
Benjamin Franklin’s 13-Point Plan for Virtuous Living
- Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
- Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
- Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
- Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
- Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
- Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
- Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
- Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
- Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
- Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
- 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.
- Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
- Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
I challenge you to consider each virtue and, as you do, be mindful of what Franklin wrote, “mastering all of these at once was a task of more difficulty than I had imagined.” He suggested that a person should tackle them like “a person having a garden to weed, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad herbs at once, which would exceed his reach and his strength, but works on one of the beds at a time.”
Be kind to yourself. Remember change takes time. My “weed patches” for 2012 are Temperance, to lose weight; Order, to reduce professional and personal clutter; Justice, to be active in doing right by doing the right things and Industry, to focus my time on what is most important by living out the 80/20 Rule.
I will do and accomplish them one step at a time. How about you, what will you commit to and do?