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The pathway to excellence, according to Benjamin Franklin

I just finished reading a fantastic book, called “How I raised myself from Failure to Success in Selling” by Frank Bettger. This book is a must read not only if your job consist or is related to selling, but also if you want to improve some basic core skills, that will help you greatly in your relationships with people and in all aspects of your life.

Although the book is greatly packed with easy techniques, stories and examples of how to raise your bar in the art of selling, it contains as well a hidden gem. Bettger admits that this single mechanism was the core of his entire success. This method is very simple, yet requires enough effort to get the desirable results. It is called “Thirtheen Virtues” and it was first developed by one of the greatest minds in the history of America, Benjamin Franklin.

I do not know why, but this method got me extremely motivated to try it out. The idea, according to Franklin, is to chose 13 subjects that are desirable for you, and that you would like to master. Then, give to each topic one week strict attention, without letting anything else get on the way. After 13 weeks, you start over again with the first virtue, and so on. It sounds pretty simple, but I truly believe it will change your life in a profound way. You can develop just about any ability, by the power of repetition, discipline and focus, that this method brings.

What I find most fascinating is that you can adapt it to your own personal needs, using the same 13 virtual principles, or mixing his principles with others of your most interests, or that adapt better to your personal circumstances.

The 13 virtues of Benjamin Franklin are listed in the following order:

  1. Temperance– Eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation.

  2. Silence- Speak not but what might benefit others or yourself, avoid trifling conversation.

  3. Order– Let all your things have their places; each part of your business has its time.

  4. Resolution– Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail you resolve.

  5. Frugality- Make not expense but to do good to others or yourself.

  6. Industry- Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut 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 ommiting 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, clothes and habitation.

  11. Tranquility– Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or avoidable.

  12. Chastity- Rarely use venery but for the 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.

I started my personal journey with this method, and although it´s challenging in the beginning to focus your most attention to one single behavior or set of behaviors, I can certainly assure that by the third week, you start to develop an internal discipline, that I never imagined I could reach. I started to feel more confidence with every day that passed, and right now, on my fourth week, it feels already like a part of me. I cannot say that I have yet mastered any of the virtues I set to myself, but I have done much more improvement and got more self-awareness in these last few days after trying this method, than all the years of just letting myself play my ordinary chance at performing them without much discipline and focus.

I´m very excited for what the future holds. In the meantime, I can just recommend it. Read this fantastic book, read Benjamins Franklin biography and apply this simple but scientific method. If it is recommended by one of the greatest Men and Thinkers of history, why not to give it a chance?


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