Ben Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues Challenge

Benjamin Franklin PortraitRecently, I stumbled upon reference to Benjamin Franklin’s “13 Virtues” and an exercise on how to incorporate this type of practice into one’s own way of living. Franklin created his virtues in an attempt to arrive at “moral perfection” and you can use his methodology to craft your own challenge to enable growth, wellbeing, and change in your own life.

Here’s the exercise:

  1. Create your list. Pick subjects that you believe will make the most improvement in your life and for which you believe you are particularly in need of improvement. These could be business-focused, creating connections, health and wellness, or simple attitude-shifts on which you would like to engage.
  2. Focus on the first element of the list and keep it at the forefront of your daily thoughts and practice for a week.
  3. After one week, move to the next item on the list and focus on that for a week.
  4. Repeat until you have gone through your list, then start with item one again.
  5. Do this 4 times, and you have completed a full year of practice.

This system helps engrave behaviors into your way of doing things and allows you to practice and develop skills on a single element four times per year.

Need some inspiration? Here is Ben Franklin’s list:

  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 employ’d 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, or habitation.”
  11. “TRANQUILLITY. 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.”

The context from which I was introduced to this system was rooted in sales (in a great little book by Frank Bettger titled, “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling“) but you can put your own list together to suit your specific needs and desires for personal growth.

Here’s Mr. Bettger’s, business-focused list:

  1. Enthusiasm: You become more enthusiastic when you ACT more enthusiastic.
  2. Order/Self-Organization: Take time to think and plan. Focus on the most important items first.
  3. Think in terms of others’ interests: Find out what others want, then show them the best way to get it.
  4. Questions: Questions enable you to clarify the needs of others and help you understand their point of view.
  5. Key Issue: Find your prospect’s basic need or main interest then focus on it.
  6. Listen: Perfect the art of really listening.
  7. Sincerity/Deserve Confidence: Believe in what you are selling and give your prospect the service you would want.
  8. Know your business: Continue to learn about and strengthen the knowledge of your business.
  9. Appreciation and praise: Show people you believe in them.
  10. Smile/Happiness: Smile your best smile and practice gratitude.
  11. Remember Names and Faces: Practice Immersion, Repetition, and Association to improve your ability to remember names and faces. Greet people by name.
  12. Service and Prospecting: Take care of your customers and they will take care of you.
  13. Closing the Sale/Action: Create opportunities and ask for action.

Are you ready to take the challenge? Let us know and tell us how it is going by dropping us a line.