Ben Franklin did not come from a rich and well-off background. He used his intelligence and motivation to become one of the most influential people in the colonies, the place that would be called the United States of America.
His interests were varied and he was a prolific inventor. Some of his designs were urinary catheters, swim fins, odometer, lightning rod, and bifocals.
It is estimated that his net worth in today’s dollars would place him in the top tier of the richest people in the world.
Franklin Operating System (OS)
We all have an operating system, similar to a computer. It is the “code” by which we live, the principles through which we filter our choices and decisions.
The following is a brief list of things Franklin firmly believed in and, as far as we know, practiced in his own life.
1. Don’t go into debt
In addition to the obvious challenges brought on by debt, in Franklin’s day unpaid obligations could put a person behind bars.
Can you imagine how differently people would manage their finances if America still employed a debtors prison?
2. Don’t flaunt wealth
Old Ben saw no benefit in having someone envious of what he had. Warren Buffet, once the third richest person on the planet, is a prime example. Buffet lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife, in an old house, and he drives a 2014 Cadillac.
Buffet liked his previous car, a 2006 Cadillac, but improved it because his daughter constantly harassed him. If a guy worth $ 110 billion doesn’t care about showing his money, why should we?
3. Avoid bad company
Franklin admitted that being in the wrong crowd could get him in trouble, even if he was just an innocent bystander. He also knew that if he spent a lot of time with people of questionable reputations, his own reputation could be damaged.
4. Don’t fight over politics on Facebook
In fact, being in politics, Ben liked Twitter more. 😉 What we should all understand is the need to stop being so argumentative. We should stop telling people they are wrong, as if it will never change their mind. What this will change is the relationship we have with them, and not for the better.
5. Read a lot
It’s a national tragedy that a huge percentage of Americans will only read a handful of books after leaving high school. Some will not read any.
6. Be thankful to God
Franklin believed in a higher power and focused on a life of service, rather than clinging to religious doctrine and a particular sect or denomination.
7. Avoid alcohol
He saw that alcohol had ruined the lives of people he knew. He also believed it would damage the reputation he wanted to establish.
8. Have a moral compass
Franklin had no trouble assessing himself in these terms and took steps to improve himself. That said, we don’t have to preach our principles and values to others, or compare our lives to those of others.
As for us, the only comparison we have to make is to see ourselves as we are, to the person we have the potential to be.
9. Keep busy doing important work
He said the important work keeps us focused and makes the best use of our skills and gifts. The more we pursue important work, the better we will become. Some people call it “deep work”. This level of task forces us to be at our best and forces us to grow.
If our work is constantly evolving and becoming more and more complex, reinforcing the challenge, we will have to grow to respond to it.
What to do with it
In these nine key factors we can draw value from Benjamin Franklin’s life and the way he lived. Some suggested uses for this information are to show it to your coworkers, as well as the teens and young adults in your life.
I’m going to show this to my son, so he can learn more about the character of one of America’s early leaders and how what this man believed in can make sense in his life.