A Publication of WTVP

He was an inventor, introducing the world to such new products as the Franklin stove, bifocal eyeglasses, swim fins, and the lightning rod. He was a printer, publishing The Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper and Poor Richard’s Almanack. He was a scientist, conducting several important studies on electricity and home heating. He was a philosopher, founding the American Philosophical Society, the first learned society in America. He was a philanthropist, the driving force behind Philadelphia’s first library, post office, hospital, and fire department. Oh, yeah…he was a pretty good statesman, too.

For many Americans, Benjamin Franklin symbolizes the birth of our nation. He was, after all, a member of the Second Continental Congress and one of the main contributors to the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution––and one of the few men we refer to as a Founding Father. Franklin’s vision of the way he thought things should be, as well as his expertise in writing and negotiating, allowed him to shape our country in ways few people ever have.

What people may not know about Franklin is he established his own list of values that set the standards for his behavior. He defined them clearly, and he rated himself at the end of each day on how well he “lived” each one, marking it down in what he called his “Book of Virtues.” Before you discount Franklin’s ideas as old fashioned, think about modern leaders who have risen or fallen based on adhering to or not adhering to some of his principles. Here’s Franklin’s list, in his own words:

It’s interesting to note as you study his list that this blueprint for self-improvement was also a blueprint for building the trust and respect of others—which he needed in his many endeavors. The language may be dated, but the content is still relevant for all of us who aspire to be better. It reminds us to work at it every day.

Ben Franklin’s amazing achievements and passionate involvement in everything he did is the ultimate example of a leader who gave it his all. Few people before or since have demonstrated such an insatiable drive to continually achieve and continually improve. And, after all, isn’t that the real sign of a great leader? IBI