Friday, August 24, 2012

Axiom 26: A Modern Revision to Franklin's 13 Virtues

"The unexamined life is not worth living." -Socrates

"A man can never hope to be more than he is if he is not first honest about what he isn't." -Don Williams, Jr.

Benjamin Franklin wrote about 13 virtues he thought necessary to have a happy, complete, and successful life. He worked on these virtues throughout his life. For those that are interested you can read more about it here. You can also read in detail about the process Franklin used to refine these virtues in his autobiography.

I think the concept Franklin developed is still useful today. However, a virtue in the strictest sense has moral implications. Therefore, in our modern world Franklin's 13 virtues seem slightly out of place. With this in mind I have written 13 areas of study that transcend the barriers of virtues to encompass all that is needed to become successful and happy in our modern world.

How you work on these 13 categories is entirely up to you. Franklin worked on them by making a grid with the days of the week on one axis and the virtues on the other axis. At the end of the day he would put an 'X' in the box on each virtue that he failed at. His goal was to mark fewer and fewer X's each week. Franklin also began concentrating on one virtue individually for a week or month until he saw improvement and then moved onto the next one. Ideally you will do the same, finding simple ways to improve your life by focusing on these 13 categories as a whole and also individually. Gradually you will notice an enormous change in your life.

The 13 Areas of Mastery of the Modern Successful Person:
  1. Education - Always learning, always reading, always watching. School ends but learning never does. Always learning new trades and skills is key to continual improvement.
  2. Organization - Everything has a place. Neat, tidy, easy to find and recall when needed.
  3. Time-Management - Our greatest resource. You must master time or it will master you. Schedule everything, waste as little time as possible.
  4. Balance - Everything in moderation, including moderation. Make ample time for work and family.
  5. Simplicity - Always look for the simpler solution. Everything can be simplified.
  6. Distractions - Minimize distractions. They are killers for success and happiness.
  7. Money - Master your money or it will master you.
  8. Appearance - Be clean, well-dressed, always pleasant.
  9. Charity - Be willing to help others with your time and resources.
  10. Health - Your body is your temple. Treat it as such.
  11. Ethical - Be true to your handshake and your word. Your reputation and success depend on it.
  12. Network - Reach out to others. Find a mentor. Be a mentor.
  13. Faith - Practice and study your spiritual beliefs.    

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Axiom 25: Hard Work is Underrated

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." -Thomas Edison

"Good luck is a lazy man's estimate of a worker's success." -Unknown Source

I'm here writing this axiom to tell you that contrary to what your parents told you, you're not special. The world doesn't owe you anything, and even if you were born rich you'll still have to work hard to be successful and earn the respect of others. Hard work is the only way to truly achieve success and appreciate it. So no matter what you previously thought its time to realize that success is more about effort and less about luck.

You have a better chance of dying from a dog bite than from winning the lottery. Don't put your head in the clouds just hoping for a lucky break. Take control of your life and start working hard at everything you do. If you have good experience and you're still not successful it may be because you're following along with the crowd. What separates great people from good people is their combination of experience and the ability to take the road less traveled and try something different in order to achieve success.

The youth in America has been fed a dangerous lie. They have been taught that success is a combination of, "Do what feels good," coupled with, "College is right for everyone". Now the market is totally saturated with people in their early 20s that have thousands of dollars in student loan debt and college degrees in subjects where there is little or no market demand. The problem isn't a shortage of jobs in America its a shortage of qualified workers.

So armed with a college degree with little market value and a chip on their shoulder these young professionals reluctantly enter jobs that are far from what they would consider their "feel good" dream job. Because hard work was never emphasized to them they thought a college degree was all that was needed to make the big bucks. I've met many of this MTV generation over the years who were disheartened and confused that after two weeks of hard work they were not promoted to CEO. They eventually quit or get fired and start the next job with the same expectations and after years of repeating the cycle they still don't get it.

My wife worked for a place that had to caudal their employees just to tell them they were doing a bad job. They had to "sandwich" criticism between two things that the employee was doing well. What a load of crap! What has society come to that people can't handle hearing the blunt truth of their mistakes. 

I realize that Americans look down on hard work. I also realize that humans are naturally lazy. However, no matter how much you dislike your job continue to work hard and realize that you are gaining experience. Everyday you are learning something. Translate your experience into bigger things and know that unfortunately sometimes it can take years to build up to something great.

Let me be clear that I'm not telling people not to forego college. College can be a great experience in its own way and was the key to many of the skills that led to my successes. However, college did not get me a job and it did not keep me from years of hard work that I continue to do daily. Overall, hard work has been the key to my successes in life. Hard work slowly carved out lasting success over a period of years.

So take this axiom as a wake up call. Hard work can gain you experience and respect. Use that experience and respect to take the road less traveled. That's where you'll find success.