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Benjamin Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues

By Bigg Success Staff
12-27-07

Timeless Principles

benjamin_franklin_jpg You may or may not be familiar with this story. Even if you are, it bears repeating. Benjamin Franklin developed a system for living his core values as a young man. He sought moral perfection.

He developed a list of thirteen virtues he wanted to follow. We’ll talk about his thirteen virtues in a minute.

What was more revolutionary (we couldn’t resist!) was how he made sure he lived his core values. He developed a chart [PDF] with the days of the week at the top and the virtues listed in the in the first column. Then he tracked his progress daily!

He learned, from experience, that he couldn’t possibly change thirteen things at once. So each week, he focused on one. After thirteen weeks, he’d covered them all. Then, he realized what a difference living these virtues had made in his life.

So he repeated the process. He continued this for the rest of his life.

In his own words, straight from his autobiography, here are the thirteen virtues that Ben Franklin sought to obtain:

  • Temperence.
  • Eat not to dullness; 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 employ’d 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 extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

  • Cleanliness.
  • Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

  • Tranquility.
  • Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

  • Chastity.
  • Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

  • Humility.
  • Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Whether you use Ben’s virtues or make up your own goals, he developed a great system for making it much more likely that you get, rather than just set, your goals!

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