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Lesson #4: Lose No Time
In his autobiography, Franklin recalls his early days of owning a printing shop when he was just starting to get set up on his own and he would often stay in the office working well past 11pm. If it meant getting a task accomplished on time, Franklin would even stay overnight to do, or redo it if that was the case. It is this strong work ethic that carried Franklin through to the end of his career, noting that, “Lost time is never found again.”
As one of the most curious and ingenious of America’s earliest thinkers, it was no difficult task for Franklin to find something to occupy his time with. Industrious to the core, Franklin believed strongly in seizing the moment and putting every minute to good use. “Lose no time,” he said. “Be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”
Franklin had no patience for procrastination. If he had something that needed to be done, he would set out to accomplish it right then and there. “Work while it is called today, for you know not how much you will be hindered tomorrow,” he said. “One today is worth two tomorrow’s; never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today…you may delay but time will not.”
By failing to take advantage of all your resources – including time – Franklin believed you were setting yourself up for failure. Especially in fiercely competitive industries, you could not afford to sacrifice even the slightest edge to your competitors. “Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry, all things easy,” said Franklin. “He that rises late must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night, while laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him.”
However, working hard was not only a matter of profit and dollar signs to Franklin; it was a question of utilizing what was given to you. “Hide not your talents, they for use were made,” said Franklin. “What’s a sun-dial in the shade?” Hard work was also a matter of making a significant and valuable contribution to the world around you.
Resolution was a key factor of success for Franklin, who said, “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.” No matter how hard a task might have seemed or how impossible a goal, Franklin believed that with a strong work ethic, it could be achieved. “Energy and persistence conquer all things,” he said. And, after all the hard work, there would indeed be time to enjoy the payoff. “Employ thy time well if thou meanest to get leisure.”
Thus, at the very bottom line of Franklin’s success was the hard work he put into every single goal he decided to see through.
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