During the last few weeks of 2012, I was talking with a friend who knew a lot about sales. I asked him if he had any book suggestions. He asked me to read a book by Frank Bettger called “How I raised myself from failure to success in selling.” While the book was an excellent read and taught me a lot about sales, it also taught me a lot about success. In the book, there is a story about Benjamin Franklin who studied 13 principles, once per week for an entire year. This caught my attention so I decided to give it a try for myself.

Benjamin Franklin

The idea is that a person who is successful or wants to become successful must have a set of virtues. These virtues will be not only shape his character but will also teach a man good morals and standards in life. While every Man and Woman must search for what is important to them, Benjamin Franklins Virtues were:

  1. Temperance – eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation
  2. Silence – Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversion.
  3. Order – Let all your 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; waste nothing.
  6. Industry – Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity – Use no hurtful deceit, think innocently and justify, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice – Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting 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, cloathes, or habitation.
  11. Tranquility – Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents ┬ácommon or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity – Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility – Imitate jesus and Socrates.
Reading through this list, its really amazing and thorough. It is no wonder he was such a brilliant scientist and inventor. As I finished the book, I ran an experiment of my own and decided to dissect my own character flaws and create my own list on where I needed to improve. I started on January 1st on enthusiasm and I am currently on tolerance and I already see an improvement! My plan is to practice each virtue once per week. I take the virtues and write them down on a 3×5 index card, place it in front of my computer and thats all I need to do. Throughout the day, its in front of my face and I get to see it often. in 2013, each virtue will be practiced 4 times. I hope that by the end of the year, I have improved my character ten fold.
  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Tolerance
  3. Imagination
  4. Focus
  5. Self-control
  6. Concentration: one task at a time.
  7. Habit of saving
  8. Mastermind: Teamwork, two or more people.
  9. Initiative & leadership.
  10. Gratefulness
  11. Friendships
  12. Generosity
Here are 10 ways you can come up with your own. It will require you to think really hard about yourself, your life and your current circumstances:
  1. What are you trying to accomplish that is not working?
  2. Do you find yourself often getting distracted?
  3. Are you running paycheck-to-paycheck and have no money saved up?
  4. Do you find yourself addicted to video games, shopping or the internet?
  5. Do you take people for granted and show no appreciation?
  6. When was the last time you did something for a good cause?
  7. Have you ever wanted to start a new career or a business but lacked the drive or ambition?
  8. Do you lack sincere friendships or if you were ever in need of a friend, would you have someone to call on?
  9. Do you get upset often at trivial matters?
  10. Do you often start something but stop halfway and lose interest?

As you answer all the above questions, you will not only learn more about yourself but you will also find out what virtues you need to learn in order to overcome your setbacks. Now, of course, virtues are not only for people with setbacks. Virtues / standards or whatever you want to call them are the key to life mastery. What got you here, won’t get you there. In order to get that new job or start that new career, a major part of you has to improve. Say you were only making $50,000 a year income and you want to make $200,000 per year income; won’t you agree that you must change in a lot of areas in your life in order to make that much more?

Without putting too much thought into it, what virtues and/or character traits do you want to improve on this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts!