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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin & An American Life

·3 mins

Franklin was such an interesting character that I had to read two books on him. He’s odd mannered and endearing. There’s a lot to learn from him about life and managing people.

Here are some of my notes from reading about him:

  • Franklin kept reinventing himself
  • People are more likely to admire your work if you are able to keep them from being jealous of you
  • A secret to being more revered than resented is to have some sense of self-deprecating humor, an unpretentious demeanor and use an unaggressive style in conversations
  • Franklin cultivated for himself a personality that was less confrontational and contentious, which made him seem endearing and charming as he grew older. He took on a personality of a humble inquirer and doubter
  • Franklin made it a habit to appear more humble than assertive and used words like I conceive, I apprehend, I imagine, so it appears to me a present as opposed to words like certainly and undoubtedly. If someone were outrightly wrong, he’d say in certain occasions and in certain circumstances he’d be right, but in the present case there appeared or seemed to be some difference etc. This made him a very persuasive person
  • Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day
  • Men are best contented when they are employed and enjoy leisure to the fullest at such times, but when left idle, they are ill spirited
  • Franklin’s pragmatic rules for success are:
    1. Be frugal until you’ve paid what you owe
    2. Endeavor to speak truth in every instance and not give any false expectations, and to aim at sincerity by every word and action
    3. To apply oneself industriously to any business at hand and not divert attention to any sudden prospects of quickly growing rich, for industry and patience are the surest means of plenty
    4. Resolve to speak I’ll of no man whatsoever
  • Franklin’s 13 moral virtues are:
    1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
    2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversations
    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; i.e., waste nothing.
    6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
    7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
    8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
    9. MODERATION. Avoid extreme; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
    10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloths, or habitation.
    11. TRANQUILITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
    12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
    13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates