Monday, April 7, 2014

Franklin's 13 Subjects

If you want to be successful in life, the best way to do this is to follow the advice of a successful person.  Thankfully for all of us, one of the most successful people in the history of the United States was Benjamin Franklin, and he left for us his advice on how he became successful.

When he started writing his autobiography he was writing to his son, and he wrote about the thirteen subjects that he believed were necessary or desirable for him to acquire and master.  In this way, he was able to go through his entire list in thirteen weeks, and repeat the process four times a year."  

If a man as successful as Ben Franklin had created a method of making his life better, then perhaps it would be wise for other people who wish to succeed in life to follow his plan, or develop an individual plan based on his.

Franklin’s thirteen subjects:
  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 you 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 harmful deceits; think innocently & justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Moderation: Avoid extremes; further resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  9. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or emitting the benefits that aren't your duty.’
  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no unseemliness 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 our own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
He admitted that he had occasions where he failed at these, but would always make himself aware of his fault, and attempt to come up with a method as to prevent himself from repeating them. For one thing, he was overweight, and that in itself probably led to his health failings later in his life, like his gout.

And while he was a great speaker, ambassador, scientist and writer, he admitted he was a failure at family. His wife never left him, but he was never a good husband. And while he started writing his autobiography to his son, he had disowned him before he wrote the second half, which is why the second part of his autobiography is not written to his son and is fairly dry reading as a result.