Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. -Benjamin Franklin
A persons character is the aspects of them that make them distinct. Their distinctive moral, physical and intellectual traits. We develop our character often unconsciously through how we perceive and act upon the events around us. But if we taker a step back from it all and observe. We can see that its possible to subsume the process and take control of what we develop into.
Benjamin Franklin noticed this in 1726 at the age of 20. He decided that he wanted to become morally perfect. So he chose all the virtues that he felt if he embodied he would be morally perfect. He also created a type of chart that he used to track his progress in embody these traits.
Benjamin’s List of “Perfect” Character Virtues
I should note that Ben did this almost 300 years ago, so the virtues he came up with may not be what you would. But his methodology is sound, and I think for anyone struggling with more ethereal things like improving “character traits” his method could be helpful.
Ben’s virtues pulled directly from his book are;
“TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; 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 employ’d 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; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”
“CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.”
“TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”
“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.”
“HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”
Now I personally have changed almost all of these for my list, but if you feel his virtues have value to you then by all means, use them. They’re a tool for YOUR own development. Now how did Ben plan to improve on all these?
Ben’s Top Secret Character Development Method
Just joking, it wasn’t really a secret. In fact, he published it in his autobiography which can be found here. What Ben did was create a chart which he used to track his adherence to his chosen virtues.
He created a grid with Sunday to Saturday along the x axis and his 13 virtues along the y axis. Each week he would only track his chosen virtue for that week. He realized he couldn’t realistically work on them all simultaneously. He’d get swamped.
So one week at a time he worked his way down this chart putting a black dot each time he didn’t adhere to that weeks virtue. The rest of the virtues he left alone assuming that they’d naturally improve the more cumulative weeks he spent on them. As he did this 13 week cycle four times a year. Thus constantly improving his character.
I hope you got some ideas for how you can improve yourself. If you want some charts you can modify yourself, you can find them here (courtesy of DIY Planner)
It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man. -Benjamin Franklin
If you found this article helpful please share it with your circle, and if you like the idea comment some virtues that you plan on working on.