This 4th July, we wanted to share some remarkable lessons from a historical leader whose words are more relevant today than ever before.
We remember Benjamin Franklin as a self-taught, hard-working, entrepreneurial, quintessential “American” and a Founding Father — with a legacy that lives on today.
He made history by proving that lightning was electricity, inventing Bifocals, as well as establishing the first American public library and the United States Postal Service.
But his most significant contribution to humanity goes even beyond that.
He played a key role in defining the American ethos through hard work, education, entrepreneurship, self-governing institutions, community spirit, and philanthropy.
Here are 4 powerful lessons we can learn from his inspiring life:
1. Self-Educate And NEVER Stop Learning
Franklin was born into a poor family of 17 children and had less than 2 years of formal education.
But his boundless curiosity fostered a spirit of lifelong learning and self-education. That spirit would lead him to become one of the most respected intellects of the Western world.
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
Driven to improve himself and hone his skills, he developed a self-improvement course for himself when he was only a teenager. Later on, working in his brother’s print shop, he devised a writing course for himself and quickly became the most famous writer in colonial America.
He implemented a strict daily schedule for himself, which included specific times for learning, physical exercise and self-reflection.
Before personal growth was even a thing.
Actionable steps: Seek to develop deep curiosity. Make a commitment to read a book (and finish it). Take a class in something you’re passionate about or master a new skill.
2. Your Potential Is Limitless – No Matter Your Age
As children, we have dreams of what we want to be when we “grow up.” But often those aspirations fade into the pursuit of practical vocations once we reach adulthood.
Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.
A protean figure, Benjamin Franklin dispelled the myth that we cannot recreate ourselves or change the trajectory of our life at any given point.
When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.
From his vocation hopping as a printer, writer, scientist, diplomat, inventor, and Founding Father, to signing the Declaration at 70 years old, his life was a constant reinvention of himself.
Actionable steps: If you’re feeling stuck in your life or unsure of how to unleash your true potential, this free masterclass on Becoming Limitless will set you on the right path.
3. Value Your Time And Take Action
All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.
Which class do you fall into?
So often, overwhelm, fear, indecision, and overthinking cripple our ability to take action. We think we have an infinite amount of time to accomplish something, but time has a funny way of moving along much faster than we anticipate.
Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.
Ben Franklin was a master of consistent action. His vision for his life and country propelled him forward, and he established systems and processes to assist him in making decisions and accomplishing his vision.
My way is to divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns; writing over the one Pro and over the other Con.
Then during three or four days’ consideration, I put down under the different heads short hints of the different motives, that at different time occur to me, for or against the measure.
When I have thus got them altogether in one view, I endeavor to estimate their respective weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I judge some two reasons con equal to some three reasons pro, I strike out five; and thus proceeding,
I find where the balance lies; and if after a day or two of further consideration, nothing new that is of importance occurs on either side, I come to a determination accordingly.
— Benjamin Franklin
Actionable steps: Create or adopt a strategy (such as Franklin’s) to help you make decisions. Or, if you have trouble accomplishing goals, check out this great video that Evercoach CEO, Ajit Nawalkha, recently shared on how to accelerate the accomplishment of goals.
4. Contribute To Humanity And Do Good In The World
Imagine if you started every day with the question “What good shall I do this day?”, and ended it by asking yourself “What good have I done today?”.
Would it impact the choices you make throughout the day?
Benjamin Franklin posed these exact questions to himself every day.
In 1727 (at age 21), he started the Junto Club – a group of intellectuals and artists to discuss ideas they had on self-improvement and on how to improve their community.
Sounds like a Mastermind circle ahead of its time.
He devoted his life to philanthropy — private initiatives, for the public good, focusing on quality of life. He attributed his success to his having dedicated his adult life to “doing good.”
The noblest question in the world is, ‘What good may I do in it?’
Thanks to technology, we have more access to information and awareness of the plight of others – friends and strangers alike — than ever before.
This access and awareness are shaping our belief systems and our choices in unprecedented ways.
Actionable steps: Connect with individuals and groups that are doing works for humanity. Whether it be efforts within an organization you support, your community, or on a larger scale, you can make a difference.
Tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavor, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.
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Which of these lessons will you implement in your life? Share your thoughts with us in a comment!