It is everybody’s ambition to have an attractive and impressive personality. Many go for attending personality development programmes and seminars. Some read self-development books and try to learn more about it. Some others commit to adopting new lifestyles for improving their health and appearance. A few go to yoga and meditation centers for improving physical and mental strength. But, often their efforts are seen short-lived. They again fall back to the beaten track of their old habits and way of thinking. Majority of people find, it difficult to make changes in their basic habits and lifestyles they were practicing comfortably so far. They are not ready to come out from their own comfort zone. So they are unable to break the shell of their negative habits which are detrimental to their health, happiness, and personality. Strong will and consistent efforts are essential for achieving a good and impressive personality. Many great men have succeeded in their efforts to improve their personality characteristics and their lives with their strong determination and regular practice. Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and Swami Vivekananda are all regarded as role models in this.
Benjamin Franklin Model:
It was Benjamin Franklin, who is regarded as a great genius and the architect of America, who showed how one can practically improve his personality through consistent self-development and achieve great success in life.
Benjamin was born in a very poor family and he could get only two years of formal schooling. He had to face several difficulties and adversities, but in spite of all these, he became an American legend with his consistent hard work and never-ending efforts. He is regarded as a versatile genius and founding father of U.S.A. He rose to the glorious positions of a successful statesman, diplomat, author, scientist, inventor, musician, and publisher. His role in drafting the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution was immense and substantial. He made significant contributions to the field of science with his inventions like lightning road, bifocals, Franklin stove, glass armonica etc. He was actually a self-made personality. His legendary success in life was due to his amazing personality he developed with his consistent and continuous hard work and practice for self-development. He was so committed to his self-improvement regimen he started early at the age of 20, that he continued it until his death.
He identified 13 important virtues and developed a personal plan for acquiring these. He focused to practice one virtue per week and in 13 weeks he covered all the 13 virtues. He regularly and systematically noted his progress in his diary. At the end of the 13 weeks, he started the process over again as the next round. He continued the cycle of practice 4 times a year without fail. His personality development programme became a lifelong process of self-development.
13 Virtues for an Amazing personality
The following are the 13 virtues Benjamin Franklin identified and practiced systematically with a strong commitment and passion. Anybody who is longing to acquire an amazing personality similar to that of the great Benjamin Franklin can very well try to practice and acquire these valuable virtues one after another.
Benjamin wrote in his diary, under the heading temperance; ‘eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation’: He began to enforce self-discipline and moderation in his eating habits. He knew that temperance is an essential habit required for the upkeep of his health. According to the famous English Poet, Alexander Pope; ‘Heath consists with temperance alone’
According to the ancient Chinese Philosopher, Lao Tsu; ‘Silence is a great source of strength’. Benjamin realized this fact and used silence as a powerful strategy for improving his personality. He tried to avoid talking unnecessary things and kept silence when he was tempted to talk bad about others. In conversations, he became an interested and silent listener. Thus he could easily win the hearts of others and acquire more knowledge. Benjamin was trying to follow the wise words of Cicero, the great Roman Philosopher, and statesman; ‘Silence is one of the great arts of conversation’.
Benjamin really understood the value of the old saying: ‘A place for everything; everything in its place.’ He tried his best to make this virtue a part of his self-discipline and thus he could save a lot of time and bring great achievements in his life. Albert Einstein who is regarded as the greatest scientist of all times, reiterated the value of this virtue by his wise words; ‘Order is needed by the ignorant, but it takes a genius to master chaos’
Resolutions will give strength and energy to achieving your goals. As Israelmore Ayivor, the famous inspirational writer and speaker aptly said; ‘You are as strong as your resolutions.’ Usually, resolutions are short-lived, but Benjamin performed without fail what he resolved to perform. Always try to follow the advice of William Penn, the American writer; ‘Make a few resolutions, but keep them strictly’
Benjamin believed that making expenses which will not do any real good to others or yourself is a waste. Frugality will make you understand the value of money and beauty of simple life. ‘The famous Spartan king Agesilaus rightly said; ‘By sowing frugality, we reap liberty, a golden harvest’. Frugality really leads to self-discipline and many other virtues in your life.
According to Rig Veda, ‘He who is not industrious acquires nothing’: Benjamin was fully aware of the value of time and he believed that to waste time is a crime. So he always engaged in doing something useful. Engaging in doing unnecessary things or less important things is a waste of your time and energy. Hence plan and prioritize your activities according to the intensity of importance in your life. Never forget the wise words of Gautama Buddha; ‘Fools wait for a lucky day, but every day is a lucky day for an industrious man’
Benjamin embraced the virtue of sincerity by being just and truthful always, in his thoughts, words, and actions. Your sincerity and trustworthiness will definitely nurture and strengthen your relations with others. As B.R. Ambedkar rightly pointed out; ‘Sincerity is the sum of all moral qualities’.
Benjamin believed in the true value of justice in life. He always tried to be just in his decisions and actions, without causing any harm to others. As the great Greek philosopher, Socrates advised; ‘Nothing is to be preferred before justice’. You should never forget your duty and others’ rights.
Benjamin realized that moderation is the master key to sustainable success in life. Moderation in eating, resting, celebrating, spending etc will lead you to health and happiness. As the famous Canadian author and mystic, Manly Palmer Hall reminds us; ‘Moderation is the secret of survival’.
According to Mahatma Gandhi ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’. Cleanliness of the body, clothes, and habitation was a part of Benjamin’s self-discipline. Sam Veda does emphasize; ‘One who Maintains cleanliness keeps away diseases’.
As the British motivational author and poet James Allen pointed out; ‘the more tranquil a man becomes, the greater his success, his influence, his power for good.’ Benjamin realized that inner peace was the key to great success and happiness. If you have inner tranquility you will not be upset by external problems and setbacks. The turmoil and adversities would just touch your strong quills and go.
Centuries ago, the ancient Athenian statesman and poet Solon aptly pointed out; ‘Pure chastity is the beauty to our souls, grace to our bodies, and peace to our desires.’ Benjamin realized that overindulgence in sex and promiscuity may lead to harmful consequences like weakness, dullness or loss of reputation and mental peace. Even in these modern times, the virtue of chastity is quite relevant.
Benjamin regarded Jesus and Socrates as paramount role models of humility and wanted to imitate them in his life. As the famous English writer and critic, John Ruskin pointed out; ‘The first test of a truly great man is his humility.’ You will be liked and loved by others greatly when you practice humility. The famous poet and critic, T. S. Eliot warn us, ‘Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve, nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of self.’
For Benjamin Franklin, the process of personality development was a lifelong regimen and he achieved remarkable success in it. The famous French Philosopher and author, Albert Camus had a similar view; ‘We continue to shape our personality all through our life’,
It’s not Benjamin Franklin alone to set an ideal example of self-development by identifying and practicing important virtues in life. The ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle introduced 12 virtues for practice as courage, temperance, liberality, magnificence, pride, honor, good temper, friendliness, truthfulness, wit, friendship, and justice. Some virtues are same or similar to the virtues proposed by Benjamin Franklin.
Aristotle also proposed the following four cardinal virtues.
- Prudence, 2. Justice, 3.Temperance and 4. Courage
Aristotle strongly believed and advised; ‘Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom’. So, firstly try to be aware of your own strengths and limitations. Try to understand the virtues you have to acquire afresh and virtues to be strengthened by practice.
There are eight virtues in the Bushido Code of the Samurai, mainly emphasizing compassion and benevolence. They used to practice these virtues to improve their personality and character.
Start practice at the earliest
Benjamin Franklin started his self-development regimen as early as at the age of 20 and continued passionately until his death. Personality development was a lifelong passion for him. In later years he confessed that even though he could not achieve the 13 virtues to the perfection he was ambitious of obtaining, he could very well become a much better and happier man in life by the endeavor itself. ‘Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin’ unfolds the great lessons of personality development. He attributed his success in developing an amazing personality to his dedication for self-knowledge and lifelong pursuit for perfection.
In short, the great lessons taught by Benjamin Franklin, Aristotle and others in history can be learned and practiced passionately by anyone who aspires for developing an amazing personality and achieving great success in life. According to the famous German psychologist and philosopher, Eric Fromm; ‘Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his personality’.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. JOHN MUZHUTHETTU is a Human Resource Consultant, National Trainer, and Counselor. Formerly he was the Deputy Chief Engineer, Kerala State Electricity Board and is still working as an external faculty of HRD Programmes of KSEB. He is also a faculty of Department of Management Studies, Mar Augusthinose College, Ramapuram, under M.G.University, Kerala. He is the PG course co-ordinator of MHRM.
He is a columnist in several Magazines, like ‘Business Deepika’, ‘Creative Business’, ‘Donbosco’ etc. His articles have been published in many magazines and journals. His several speeches have been aired by All India Radio. His interviews on various subjects have been telecasted by Power Vision TV. He is the author of five best-selling books:
‘Stress-Manassasthra- Aathmeeya Pariharangel’. (Current Books, Thrissur) 4th Edition
Vijayiyude Vyakthithwam (Current Books, Thrissur)
Jeevitham Santhushtamakan, Nithya Yauvanam Nedan.(CSS, Thiruvalla)2ndEdition
Emotional Intelligence-Jeevithavijayathinu (CSS, Thiruvalla)
Vijayarahsyangal (Current Books, Thrissur)
As a trainer, he has conducted more than a thousand seminars and workshops for teachers, parents, students, executives and others, on several subjects like Stress Management, Time Management, Personality Development, Emotional Intelligence and Spiritual intelligence for Excellence, Communicative Skills, Assertiveness, Motivation, Study Skills, Effective Parenting, Counselling Skills etc. He is an external training faculty of Power Engineers Training and Research Centre of KSEB. He is an external faculty of IMG Cochin. He is also the Secretary of Upasana Cultural Centre, Thodupuzha.
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