As one of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin is celebrated as an accomplished statesman, diplomat, scientist, historian, inventor, publisher, and author. Long before Simon Sinek encouraged us to “Start With Why”, Benjamin Franklin wrote about passion, purpose, and virtue in everyday life.
His autobiography, written originally for his son, is a rich source of advice related to systematic productivity and constant self-development His contributions to modern day diplomacy, media, and science are a testament to his mindfulness and dedication to productive habits.
Benjamin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and continued school until he was 10. Although he never graduated, he read voraciously and became an apprentice at a print shop. At the age of fifteen, he founded the first independent newspaper in the English colonies, and later published the famous Pennsylvania Gazette which was instrumental in the American Revolution.
His experiments with electricity earned honorary degrees from both Harvard and Yale, and he studied broad areas of science including demographics, meteorology, oceanography, and physics. Where he was from, and how his parents and early life shaped him. Franklin was pivotal in the creation of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, firmly establishing himself as one of the founding fathers of the United States.
13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin
From humble beginnings, Franklin worked hard to achieve his place in history, and his autobiography sheds light on the productivity practices and habits he formed for self-improvement. Originally created as a memoir for the benefit of his son, his autobiography includes the “13 Virtues” he chose to guide his life. At the age of 20, Franklin chose thirteen pillars as a foundation for his life.
- Temperance: 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 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; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
- Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, 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 dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
- Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Journaling for Self Reflection
Franklin wasn’t merely philosophical. He was pragmatic. He started and finished every day in self-reflection, and tracked each virtue for accountability. He would ask himself “What good shall I do this day?” in the morning, and “What good did I do this day?” at night. The benefit of his mindfulness and self-awareness would catapult him from an ordinary life to a legacy lasting hundreds of years.
Benjamin Franklin is more than a founding father of the United States. As a creator and innovator, he was one of the earliest authors to dive into psychological wellness, and he is one of the inspirations for ProHabits today. His habit formation and self-reflection embodies the mindfulness, focus, and operational excellence of the most influential leaders throughout the world.