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Benjamin Franklin developed this plan when he was 20. Based on Philippians 4:8, he reviewed one of these virtues each week, cycling through the list four times per year. Franklin carried a collection of charts where he would add a mark for each fault committed against the virtue of that day.
13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin
- Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
- Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
- Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
- Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
- Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
- Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
- Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
- Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
- Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
- Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
- 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.
- Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
- Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
I attended the funeral of a friend yesterday afternoon. She died at the age of 74 after a battle with cancer.
The service was tinged with sadness at the loss of a family member and friend. However, it was also a celebration of a life well lived: a life that left a lasting impression on those who knew her.
In listening to the tributes to her life, and reflecting on the years I’ve known her, three traits signified the quality of her life.
- She had a strong spiritual faith. It’s a good place to start. This was the foundation of her life. Everything she did came from her spiritual beliefs. It wasn’t a cloistered faith, practiced for an hour on Sunday, but practiced and lived every moment.
- She loved her family. She was one of seven children and had six of her own. It was a big family and she was devoted to them all. When the final throes of of her illness came on, she was down in Ontario visiting with her sisters. One didn’t have to watch the family for too long to realize they were important to her.
- She gave to others. This lady had arthritis in her hands. It was the kind of arthritis that made her fingers look like a bird’s claws. Despite that, she spent considerable time knitting clothing that could be donated to others in need. One of the last things she did was go through her store of knitted items and indicate who was to get what.
As I sat listening to the tributes, I wondered what kind of impression I am making with my life. Are my core beliefs and practices important and are they making an impression on those around me?
How will I be remembered, after I am gone?
How about you?
There are two major league sports teams in Edmonton: the Eskimos of the Canadian Football League and the Oilers of the National Hockey League. In 2005, both teams achieved considerable success in their respective sports. The Eskimos won the Grey Cup and the Oilers took the Stanley Cup series to seven games, before dropping to the Carolina Hurricanes.
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The following year, neither team achieved anything of which they could be proud. The Eskimos missed gaining a playoff spot for the first time in 35 years and the Oilers finished tenth overall in their conference.
How is it teams can be so successful one year and go nowhere the next? How is it in life that some people regularly meet and exceed goals, while others have trouble just showing up?
As I look at sports clubs, at all levels, that are consistent winners, or examine highly successful organizations and individuals, I see five traits that are the hallmarks of a champion.
Champions have character. That is, they have defined values, ethics, ethos or standards. Whatever you want to call it, all they do, and how they do all, is driven by the quality of their character.
Champions have a drive to win. They know what they want to achieve and how to create goals to get them there. Even when they don’t win all of the small victories, their focus on the big win carries them forward.
Champions take charge of circumstances. They constantly prepare and hone their skills so they can meet whatever challenges come their way. They also know the importance of developing new skills to be able to handle change.
Champions are even-tempered. In game five of this year’s Detroit – Calgary series, Calgary players showed their frustration by slashing and cross-checking in the final minutes of the game. Goalie Jamie McLennan ended up with a five game suspension for his slash. Needless to say, the Detroit Red Wings moved on to the next round, while the Flames packed and went home. Champions know that the only way to maintain or regain control in a difficult situation is to remain calm and focussed.
Champions do the right things over and over again. A winning football team brings its A-game to the field week after week. The best-selling writer sets time aside each day to write. A successful fundraiser works her prospect list regularly. Champions know achieving success involves consistent execution of their best moves.
We’re all “competing” for different kinds of prizes; the rewards that make our lives meaningful. If you want to have success in reaching your goals, you need to develop the heart of a champion.