• Laura De Sommar


Updated: May 19

Thoughts on Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography : A diplomat, political activist and inventor, writer, & much more.

Before we go any further, his ideas are that of a white man from 1700's. It's not set out to be specifically an inspiring text for women or people of colour because as it's mainly about his ideas, his work, and it's quite white male centric. Yet, the book can be inspiring if we look at his actions or even the rules he gave himself and abided by throughout his life to be a good man.

Key points:

--> I'm struck by his hard work, devotion to reading and creating the JUNTO; a group of like-minded peers that challenged each other. Thus, hard work, tons of learning and choosing peers that push you to do your best work.

--> He was a vegetarian claiming that eating meat was unprovoked murder. Although then he said that he could eat fish.

--> He had 13 virtues he practiced;

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 its 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. (I think it's like use social media to for your needs or your businesses' needs but not to scroll aimlessly)

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; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

11. Tranquillity. 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.

Also impressed by his self-confidence and in the many ideas he implemented. He would just be like; oop! This lamppost gets dirty with soot from the candle, lemme make a four-sided one with a hole at the bottom so that the air flows. And voilà IT WAS IMPLEMENTED! And it was practical - now the light actually shone for longer hours and the cleaners didn't have to come every two hours to wipe the soot. Maybe his confidence came from his extensive reading, the fact that he kept his own promises (by having those 13 concepts that he abided by), the elevated conversations he had with smart peers, and the experiments he did to test out his ideas.

He wrote down his ideas and publicised them on his newspaper (he worked his ass off for that) or proposed them to influential people many times saying it wasn't his idea so that the people wouldn't fight him personally, and just focus on the idea. Great that he put his ego aside for the sake of the idea, and the betterment of life in Philadelphia (where he lived and implemented those changes).

Reflection: I feel like many of us have amazing ideas but then think - "surely they wouldn't amount to much if I suggest it or act upon it" or "this idea would never be picked up by the general public because by this point in history, someone else must've thought of this before and it either didn't work or it was too complicated to implement ..." or, or, or. It's curious how we can put ourselves off from great ideas with negative thoughts from ourselves or even loved ones. Trust your gut.

Lemme just insert a little scenario; If your worst enemy came over and dropped, in your coffee, a cube of sugar, you'd have at worst an undrinkable sweet coffee. Horrible scenario - I know. But if your dearest loved one came over and dropped accidentally or with the best intentions a drop of cyanid, you'd be Kaput.

So we gotta learn to love ourselves, to grow in confidence, to show up for ourselves so that it's more likely that we actually take action towards your goals.

Of course it is possible to take action without believe in yourself; the key then is commitment, to just keep putting in the work. Then the results you get will build your confidence. You can do it either way.

Point is, confidence or belief in ourselves really is the key to getting to the next level in our lives. And every so often, we will get more and different challenges, we can look at them as invitations to grow to our next level of badassery. I'm not implying it'll always be fun, sometimes it's plain hard, but we do have more power than we think, and sometimes those tough situations that life gives us or that we give ourselves (by say running a marathon), allow us to see just how strong we truly are.

If we're in a tough spot, we can ask ourselves... 'if I could learn something about this situation what would that be?"

if your brain then answers "nothing. this f*cking sucks"

then you can say back "I know this sucks but if I could learn something what would that be?"

Or my favourite question: "If I did know what to do to get out of it, what would those actions be?"

Brain: But I don't know -that's the issue!

You: Okay, but in the scenario where I did know what to do, what would that be?

Many times we do know what to do, perhaps not the whole map or plan of action but at least the next physical step, and that's enough. Trust me. Planning out the whole thing might be a worthwhile exercise but then it's just that, an exercise. Because by the time we reach to step 4, we've grown, we know more, maybe we get to skip steps- or, maybe the context (tech or societal, etc) has changed and so we maybe we need step 4.1, 4.2, etc. So let's just take the first blessed step.

Maybe you know of someone who has TONS of amazing ideas, and they tell you these ideas in excited manner. I have said person in my life, so I recommended them to read this book, and if they don't, to simply write down each amazing idea they have. To not get discouraged if other people don't react to their idea because that's not a reflection of their genius or creativity but where the audience/listeners is at. Just write it down. Then, maybe later you'll decide to do something about it - but the first step, the important step, is that you captured it. Thanks for reading. As we know, knowledge + Action is the real deal - so here's to the next level of your life that you're moving towards!

* If you click on the link to buy the kindle version, I get a fee for being an Amazon Associate but it is free for you. Basically Amazon is saying 'thank you for recommending ppl to buy with us' so it's free for you, and a nice gesture from you if you like my recommendation :-)

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