Do you feel unmotivated, overextended, or unlucky? Do you feel overworked, broke, and fearful? There are, of course, situations in life that are beyond our control. But most of the time we have more control than we know. Get smart. Discover what makes for success and fulfillment in life. Then make it happen.
“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man health, wealthy, and wise,” Poor Richard’s Almanack for the Year 1735, Benjamin Franklin
If anyone can be said to have written the first self-help book in America, it’s certainly Benjamin Franklin. His Autobiography, completed in three sections written in 1771, 1784, and 1788 respectively, details the rise of a most remarkable human being. As one of seventeen children of a Boston soap and candle maker, with little formal schooling and no inherited wealth, Franklin went on to become one of the wealthiest and most influential people of his generation.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that Franklin lived to be 84 years old, in an era when the average American didn’t live to see his or her 40th birthday. But longevity was more a symptom than a cause of Franklin’s success. Chronicling what enabled him to live such a long and vital life and to leave such a storied legacy • as journalist, publisher, scientist, inventor, politician, diplomat, and philanthropist • was exactly what led him to write and publish his autobiography in the first place. He not only wanted to leave a legacy, he wanted to show others how to do so as well.
“Early to bed and early to rise” was a euphemism for Franklin’s key cardinal values: industry, frugality, and prudence. The formula was really quite simple:
1. Industry. Work hard. Without hard work, Franklin believed there would be no substantial gain in health, wealth, or wisdom. Franklin prided himself, particularly in the early decades of his career, on having an exceptionally hard work ethic. “Let us then be up and doing,” he writes in his essay The Way to Wealth, “and doing with Purpose; so by Diligence shall we do more with less Perplexity.”
2. Frugality. Live small. Franklin saw how an insatiable appetite could sink the boat of even the hardest worker. Accordingly, he believed in living with restraint, both when it came to food and money. “Eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation,” was as much about saving money as it was about healthy nutrition. During his 20s and 30s, Franklin saved enough money to retire from the printing trade at the age of 42, in order to pursue “Philosophical Studies and Amusements.”
3. Prudence. Reason well. If anyone can be said to have epitomized the exercise of good judgment, common sense, and caution, it was Benjamin Franklin. The man was well read and well connected, both of which he shrewdly used to his advantage in the conduct of his life and work. Alcohol was unseemly precisely because it interfered with clear thinking. “Everything in moderation” was his motto. The risks he took were calculated and usually successful.
Work hard. Live small. Reason well. That was the formula Franklin used to produce what may be the earliest and most dramatic example of a rags-to-riches success story in the new world. His life appeared all the more remarkable by its contrast with the more stationed European societies of his day. People just didn’t go from nothing to something the way Franklin did. Born more than 100 years before Horatio Alger, Franklin epitomized and eventually codified (in the Declaration of Independence) what came to be known as the American dream, namely, that all people have certain inalienable rights which afford every person the opportunity to achieve similarly incredible results.
Unfortunately, most people never come close to Franklin’s success. Some, of course, fall short without ever having tried and perhaps even heard of Franklin’s formula. They work little, live large, and reason poorly. Then they wonder why they can’t ever seem to get ahead. My forthcoming book, “Healthy, Wealthy & Wise: Celebrate the Best for Exceptional Results,” will assist people who feel unmotivated, overextended, or unlucky. We will find the passion and the plan to get ahead.
My book will also assist another group of people, namely, those who do work hard, live small and/or reason well but still never manage to get ahead. Their frustration may go all the way back to Franklin himself, who failed to account fully for his own success. His three cardinal values were what he wanted the world and what he himself tried to live by. But there’s more to the story than working hard, living little, and reasoning well.
* Franklin didn’t just work hard, for example, he worked hard on the right things, in the right place, with the right people, at the right time. Hard work along with utility, positioning, networking, and timing made Franklin successful.
* Franklin didn’t just live small, affording himself no earthly pleasures. He lived just small enough, from a young age, to maintain a savings plan that took full advantage of what Albert Einstein later called “the miracle of compound interest.” Franklin also took risks by investing in the lives and projects of others. Living small enough to save and invest regularly enabled Franklin to live well.
* Franklin didn’t just reason well when it came to making business and life decisions, as though his success derived solely from a rational formula or spreadsheet algorithm. Franklin also exercised creativity, conducted experiments, and trusted his intuition in order to discern what the present moment required.
Factors such as these make up the rest of the story behind Franklin’s success. They also account for why so many people are overworked, in debt, and fearful in business and life. They work hard, live small, and reason well but they don’t fully benefit from their effort, sacrifice, and choices. Their return on investment is paltry. Sometimes, of course, there is discrimination and other large socio-economic and political factors that set people back. In Franklin’s day, for example, no American of African descent could have enjoyed Franklin’s success, no matter what he or she did.
Many times, however, what sets people back comes from within. They don’t know how to work the system and position themselves for success. They work hard, live small, and reason well but they never seem to get anywhere. They want move up the ladder, and they have some of the pieces of the puzzle in place, but they need just a few more in order for the picture to come finally together. My book will assist those people to make it happen.
To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.
Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.
Greetings from tropical Malaysia. Fantastic articles. Keep it up.
Your Provisions newsletter is great and I wish you the best on your book. I love the outline and the title (My grandfather used to always mimic the quote, “Early to bed …) Do you plan to do an e-book or go the old-fashioned route? (Ed. Note: I would like to see it in press, with wide distribution.)
Best of luck to you on the beginning of your new book. I wish you all good things and thoughts of a “best seller”! Happy Thanksgiving!
According to the WHO there are 5 elements of health contributing to the overall wellbeing of an individual: spiritual, physical, financial, emotional, and mental.
In your reader’s forum today a reader asked about removing dark circles and wrinkles under the eyes. You can tell your reader that drinking more water during the day can help • I used to have darkness under my eyes and they went away with more water intake (not to mention more sleep).
I have a friend who specializes in marketing and selling books like yours through the internet. It saves a great deal of time and energy and cost over printing, distributing and advertising a physical copy of a book while competing with all the other books. And the income is immediate. Let me know if you are interested in learning more.
This book looks great and what a neat idea to use the weekly commitment of Provisions to complete the book. You were testing us to see if we noticed that last week was #283 as well as this week, right? (Ed. Note: Of course I was. :))
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
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