The Source of Enlightenment: How Franklin Achieved Success

With his commitment to personal achievement and to improving the lives of his fellow Americans, Franklin proved to be one of the most successful statesmen, writers, entrepreneurs and intellectuals of his time. Given that his father was a soap maker who couldn’t afford education for his 17 children, Franklin’s success is all the more astonishing. How did Franklin take control of his situation and turn his destiny around?

He Never Stopped Learning: Whether it was from a book he had saved up for weeks to be able to afford, or a conversation with a fellow businessman, Franklin sought out knowledge wherever he could. “More is to be learned with the ear than the tongue,” he said. Franklin believed that only through a process of continual learning would he be able to live life to its fullest potential. It was his curiosity and love of education that allowed Franklin to succeed.

He Made Good Friends: By building a strong reputation and getting his name into as many circles as he could, Franklin was able to make the connections he needed to reach the top. He understood the importance of networking and shrewdly took advantage of his prominence in order to achieve his goals.

He Delved into the Unknown: Franklin’s mind was never at rest; if it wasn’t one question plaguing him, it was another and he was always determined to get to the bottom of it. He wasn’t afraid of taking risks and experimenting with bold, new hypotheses. Key to any business, Franklin understood that it was only in continually improving, thinking of new ideas and trying new things would he finally achieve success. As he famously wrote once, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Accordingly, everything else had room for experimentation.

He Worked Hard: “He that lives upon hope will die fasting,” Franklin said. He believed that those who were successful were so because they worked just a little bit harder than everyone else. He despised laziness and procrastination, feeling that it was his duty to both himself and his community to use his time as wisely as possible and make a valuable contribution to the world. It was his strong work ethic that helped set Franklin apart from the rest.

He Gave Back: “If you wouldst live long, live well, for folly and wickedness shorten life,” said Franklin. By helping those around him, Franklin believed he was planting seeds for the future. In his desire to “imitate Jesus and Socrates”, Franklin attempted to achieve the good life by setting goals beyond the self. For him, business could not be seen as separate from the community in which it was operated and in which its employees lived. Franklin believed that citizens had to take responsibility for their community and he lived his life as an example of this philosophy.

A true renaissance man, Franklin believed that the noblest question in the world was “What good may I do in it?” He spent the 84 long years of his life trying to answer that question as best he knew how.

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