Here I am back to my weekly writing assignment and I really look forward to writing and sending it to you every weekend. Thanks for all the support and encouragement. This week, I ask the eternal question once more – Are the geniuses born or made?
It is widely believed that passion, good habits and perseverance can make an extraordinary life, if not a genius. Whenever I think of power of habits, one name that stands out is that of American Statesman – Benjamin Franklin ( ‘Ben’ for short). I read his autobiography as a young army officer somewhere in Jungles of Assam in 1990, and made extensive notes of his ‘13 virtues’. What struck me most is that Ben refused to accept a life of mediocrity – and transformed himself into a virtuous personality through good habits.
Ben was one of the most extraordinary human beings the world has ever known. Born into the family of a Boston candle maker, amongst 20 siblings, Ben went on to become the most famous American of his time. He was instrumental in constructing the new nation and has for ages been an inspiration in defining the American character and virtues. He was a writer, inventor, diplomat, businessman, musician, scientist, humourist, civic leader and international celebrity . . . a GENIUS. You could be a genius too – It is possible! Ben once said and I quote –
“I have always thought that one man of tolerable qualities will work great changes and accomplish great affairs amongst mankind”
In his late 20s, Ben decided to make a list of ‘13 virtues’ – for leading the rest of his life. 8 of these virtues were related to ‘personal behaviour’ and 5 to the ‘social interactions’. Here is the list of these virtues –
Eight Personal Behaviors
These relate to your attitude towards how you take things and challenges
“Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.”
“Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.”
“Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”
“Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.”
“Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”
“Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”
“Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.”
“Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”
Five Social Interaction Habit
He believed that with these social behaviours people would like to have relationship with you and do business.
“Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.”
“Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”
“Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”
“Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.”
“Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”
Talking of these he wrote that Silence & Order allows you more time for attending to your projects and studies. Resolutions keep you firm in your endeavours to obtain all subsequent virtues. Frugality & Industry frees you from remaining debts and producing affluence and independence.
True to himself that Ben always was – in his later years he confessed that he could not perfect these virtues, but perseverance made him a better person each day. Ben has been one of my ideals – and these 13 virtues have been beacons of my own life. The habits mentioned here are worth sending to all those you really care for – may be you will initiate a genius in him.
Happy reading and sharing – have a great week ahead. If you wish to be part of this weekly knowledge sharing – do sign in the form …
- Was Benjamin Franklin Everytime strong? (everytimestrong.wordpress.com)