Click on the image to pick up your own copy of Benjamin Franklin An American Life by Walter Isaacson

I’ve been reading the monster-sized autobiography: Benjamin Franklin An American Life by Walter Isaacson. Aside from the intellectually thick adjectives that have me constantly reaching for my dictionary app while feeling like a stupid idiot (thanks for the big words asshole); I’m finding it somewhat interesting. I’m not going to go a whole lot into the life of Benjamin Franklin (plus I haven’t even finished the book yet) but I will say that the two most reoccurring words are ‘Industry’ and ‘Frugality’. Even in his glowing letters to his parents in Boston he boasts about how ‘industrious’ his daughter is at such a young age. Oh you’re such a proud father Benjamin; you talk so highly of your daughter and of Franky, who’s life was unfortunately taken at the age of four from small pox (yet there isn’t as much glowing things said about his illegitimate son William who’s mother was never identified).

Industry and Frugality

What exactly is Benjamin Franklin getting across with these two meanings? Well I’ve already (as any other personal finance writer does) annoyed the shit out of you going on about how important FRUGALITY is. By ‘industry’ he’s referring to hard work.

Ben actually started what he called ‘The Moral Perfection Project’. I’m not going to put all of his twelve virtues he found to be desirable, you can just do a google search if you really want. But the two of the twelve that come from that quote above he defined as follows:

  • Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; (i.e., waste nothing).
    Sidenote: Sounds awfully familiar to the article I wrote about my 2 values on Irrational Spending
  • Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

For me personally, frugality is somewhat easy. I’m very good with my spending habits, and it’s quite simple really. JUST STOP SPENDING MORE THAN YOU MAKE! Oh and re-read the definition above.

Industry is interesting, I hate to admit (who does like admitting personal flaws!?) that I do work hard, but sometimes I feel I have ADD towards where my energy goes. I had a moment where I said to myself “It’s fine, Ben was also a tinkerer,” BUT the fact is Benjamin Frankalin was also great at making shit happen, and seeing things through.

Last night for the first time I was listening to Lead The Field by Earl Nightingale (awesome audiobook by the dean of development himself, highly recommend it) and I found myself thinking deeply about his discussion about working hard but towards a worthy goal.

Actually he has a quote that I wrote down and taped upon my bathroom mirror:

Earl talks a lot about focusing on goals and implies that hard work is pretty much useless if it’s not being, as Ben-jammin puts it: employed in something useful. I am so guilty of tinkering too much outside of usefulness. (Don’t judge! I’m being honest!)

So to summarize the point here is this. Being frugal and working hard are the golden tickets to becoming rich.

Be industrious, but know your goals to which you employ your hard work. Be frugal, and remember when you’re spending it should add value to your life or the lives of others.

Take action. Right now: Grab a blank sheet of paper and write down all of the things you want in life. Set your goals in order of importance to which you will be industrious towards, and cut out the distractions. That’s what the pioneer of development Benjy would have wanted. (I kind of like giving him nicknames, hell you should read about all of the pseudonyms he uses anyways throughout his printing/publishing career). And as I depicted from what Earl really drilled into my head with that thick radio voice: The process of realizing your goals is what really makes a rich life. Work hard but make sure it’s something useful that will add value to your life. When your in a rut, it’s because your not working towards something. Life becomes stale when you’re not seeing progression. And it’s all about the process of reaching the goal, not the end-goal itself.

Now take your goals, and further come up with ideas of how you are going to reach them. Cut out your awful ones and focus on those that have you thinking “hmm that could work!” Then be industrious.

Define your goals and then go from order of importance. Brainstorm ideas on how you will reach your goal. Whatever they are that will bring prosperity to your life, get started. Come back here and share your findings in the comments. I would love to hear where you’re going to employ hard work towards enriching your life. And Remember:

“Industry and Frugality are the means of procuring wealth and thereby securing virtue” – Benjamin Franklin

Note: I added some affiliate links for the first time to this post. I will continue to do so in the future, however I will not put up anything I find lacking value. These two products have been adding to my life, and I found myself reflecting on the similarities between what I have learned from them. I was inspired to write and decided I would share links to where you could find your own copies if interested.

Later Days,




One Response to What Pioneers Of Development Can Teach You About Living A Rich Life

  1. Michelle says:

    Benjamin Franklin knew what he was talking about.

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