Here’s a story of self improvement and self motivation:
He was poor, he could not go to school. He went to work for his brother at the age of 12 or 13 years of age. By the time he passed from the American scene, he had done the following:
He built his business from the ground up, after a couple of failures, to the point that he was able to retire young off of the profits of his company.
He organized the first police and fire departments in the United States.
He bought a newspaper.
He helped establish the first public school system in the United States, and the first university.
He invented, among other things, an efficient heating stove, bifocal lens for glasses, and the lightning rod.
He helped establish the first armed services in the Colonies.
He helped start the first hospital in Pennsylvania.
He helped organize and sign the Constitution of the United States.
He was a man of enormous contributions to public service in the United States.
The man? Benjamin Franklin. I am currently reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and I am struck by three key success factors that you can put into practice in your own life. To do this will be easier said than done. It will require a commitment on your part. However, if you want to rise above mediocrity and impact generations, I advise you to do these three things:
Key Success Factor: Dedicate Yourself to Reading and Studying Every Day
For the rest of your life! This is the single most important thing that Benjamin Franklin committed himself to. While the rest of his young acquaintances would be partying it up at the bars on the weekend, he would be staying up late into the night, or all day on Sunday, reading voraciously. By developing this habit of thirst for knowledge, he became learned and influential. Leaders in government noticed his grasp of ideas, his ingenuity, and his informed viewpoints. Through this he formed connections that later served him well in his life.
Jim Rohn, a key motivation success speaker and author, stated that you are your most important asset and your most important investment.
Where can you find some good sources for feeding your brain? You can start off reading some of my quality finds from across the net, found at Feed the Brain. I also highly recommend checking out Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop blog magazine, where you can find a feast of personal achievement and self motivation blogs all compiled in a magazine format that is very easy to read.
For self-improvement books, I recommend ThePersonalMBA blog, which has reading plans in which you can select books that will help you with entrepreneurship and business. Also, I highly recommend all the books that I personally selected for this blog, for your own ongoing personal development plan.
In order to Change Your Life the Smart Way, I highly recommend my own book, recently completed on your behalf. Because of this goal setting system, I can honestly say my relationship with my wife has improved, my friendships are stronger, I produced my first book (referenced already:), and I’m running the Chicago Marathon as you will be reading this very post!
I also recommend that you also start learning to get up early in order to have the time you need to read. Take at look at the Personal Excellence Blog for some tips on learning how to rise early. And finally, head over to the Change Blog for some free self help audio books and programs.
Finally, Turn Off the TV!
Darren Hardy, CEO for Success Magazine, has written on this topic. The clients he has coached have doubled their productivity and had more free time for family after they have done this. If you are able to record TV programs, do so, so that you can watch them at a later date. If you can’t bring yourself to totally turn off the TV cold turkey, then figure out how much you are watching in a week and try to cut it in half. Now you have the time you need for reading and study.
Key Success Factor: Define and Live According To Your Personal Values
You can gain the world, but lose your soul. You can accrue the millions like Bernie Madoff, and lose years of your life in prison. You can rise to the top, like Tiger Woods, and lose your reputation and good standing, and possibly your marriage. None of us is above a Tiger Woods or Bernie Madoff.
For a practical writeup on the discipline that Benjamin Franklin used to incorporate 13 North Star Virtues into his life in a methodical manner, check out this great article, and maybe try it for yourself.
Key Success Factor: Form Your Own Junto
The junto was a MasterMind Group that Benjamin Franklin formed when he was starting out in business. “The members of the Junto were drawn from diverse occupations and backgrounds, but they all shared a spirit of inquiry and a desire to improve themselves, their community, and to help others.” For a great writeup on the nature of the junto, check out this Wikipedia article.
I have the privilege of belonging to about three of my own juntos, which enable me to grow, to sharpen others, and to be sharpened by others in my spiritual and career roles. One of them meets 6 am on Friday mornings, and another one meets once a month at 7:30 am. I have a good friend I get together once a week at 5:30 am for business sharpening. And I have another friend that I run with a couple times a week.
What about you? Do you have your mastermind groups in place? Here are some suggestions to get started:
From a spiritual standpoint, are you part of a church or other place of worship? Oftentimes there are small groups that get together for study, meditation, and mutual growth.
From a business standpoint, there are many business information networking groups, Chamber of Commerce groups, and Toastmasters groups that you can join. Be sure that you join with the mindset of contributing versus receiving, and you will find that you will get back even more than you give.
If you make it a habit to read and study self help books and books in your industry, to live according to a set of personal values, and to actively participate in a mastermind group, you will find that you are surpassing mediocrity on your way to excellence. The road of excellence does not have much traffic, and I hope to find you as a fellow passenger on that highway soon!
photo credit: immugmania