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Wealth Virtues Journal: November 16, 2009

Achieving Wealth Through the Practice of Humility

Filed under: Franklin's Virtues: A Way to Wealth — Tags: , — James Ward @ 4:46 pm
© 2009 Poor Richard Web Press, LLC

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The 13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin are:

  1. TEMPERANCE: Eat not to dullness, drink not to Elevation
  2. SILENCE: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation
  3. ORDER: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have it’s time
  4. RESOLUTION: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve
  5. FRUGALITY: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing
  6. INDUSTRY: Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions
  7. SINCERITY: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly
  8. JUSTICE: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty
  9. MODERATION: Avoid extremes; forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve
  10. CLEANLINESS: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation
  11. TRANQUILITY: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable
  12. 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
  13. HUMILITY: Imitate Jesus and Socrates

To look deeper on how these Virtues can help you to create wealth, we take a look at the virtue of Humility.

The order of Franklin’s virtues provides a natural architecture for success. By starting with a foundation of Temperance, Silence, and Order, we build our house of success with the subsequent virtues. When we build a house, we start with a foundation, build the walls, then add the roof. Humility is the roof under which all the other virtues operate comfortably.

“Humility makes great men twice honorable.” – B. Franklin

Franklin’s attraction to Socrates may have been because the philosopher, rather than upholding a status quo and accepting the development of immorality within his region, worked to undermine the collective notion of “might makes right” so common to Greece at that time .

Benjamin Franklin had a pragmatic view of religion. In March of 1790, Franklin wrote the following in a letter to Ezra Stiles, president of Yale, who had asked him his views on religion. “As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think his system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see.”

So after this short history lesson on Franklin’s view of Humility, what is it that he drew from both Jesus and Socrates?

Among philosophers, Socrates is perhaps best associated with the virtue of humility. Because he knew he did not possess wisdom, he was constantly in pursuit of it. Hence, his life-long search for a master-teacher. Yet his humility proved to be a great asset inasmuch as it freed him from the distorting influence of pride. He saw the human condition with exceptional clarity, so much so that he earned the distinction of being the “Father of Moral Philosophy”.

During his life among men, Christian believers feel that Jesus demonstrated that he was equal to God in the expression of his capacity for generous self-sacrifice. Jesus demonstrated humility in his act of servitude toward others, an example being his cleansing of his apostles feet. Jesus understood who he was and gave to others because he knew he had something to give.

“He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.” – B. Franklin

Franklin’s sense of Humility through the imitation of Jesus and Socrates demonstrates that even though he was wise, there was always something new to learn, and that genuine servitude toward others pays more dividends than having a false sense of self-importance.

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.” – B. Franklin

Begin to Use Humility in Improving Wealth

  1. Examine how your actions and language affects those around you. A person who practices humility tends to be focused on goals rather than being the center of attention, whereas an arrogant person tends to think of how others should show them respect. Wealth is created more easily with alliances. Humility will attract more followers than arrogance.
  2. Humility, like Silence will allow you to be open to new ideas. Whether you agree or disagree with another persons views or ideas, practicing Humility will open you mind to nuggets of information that may in turn be helpful to you
  3. Be more charitable – eliminate things from your life that you do not need and that will benefit others who are more in need than you are.

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