V – Do

10 Lessons From Benjamin Franklin’s Daily Schedule

How did Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) accomplish so much in his life? He established a written daily schedule that was guided by his list of 13 virtues to live by:

1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and 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 employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.

God Made A Farmer

Paul Harvey, the eloquent and articulate newscaster who galvanized radio listeners with his mellow voice and extended dramatic pauses, delivered a speech in 1978 at the Future Farmers of America Convention that captured the essence of responsible citizenship and sound moral behavior. Decades later it also reflects the five principles of SemperVerus living for all people, not only farmers—Prepare, Aware, Be, Know, Do—and the 17 virtues of the SemperVerus Brotherhood.

The speech begins with the following words, imaginatively picking up the creation story the day after God rested:

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer….

A Dramatic Example of Deciding to Act

Prisoner 5239 was captured by the Nazis at just 19 years of age. Withered after five years of death camp incarceration, while on a forced death march in 1945, suddenly, without warning, the moment of decision came. It was a five second junction, a crossroads between life and death. As they rounded a bend, he glanced back, and realized the rear guard was out of sight – and, hurriedly looking ahead, it was the same. For ten paces or so, they could not be seen. He had a choice, and he decided. Turning to a friend, he hissed: “Quick! Run! Now.”

Character on Autopilot: Harnessing Your Habits

Nearly half of what we do, think, and feel in the course of a day is habitual. Our character is shaped in large part by the habits we cultivate. Good habits lead to good character; bad habits to bad character.

More than a century ago, psychologist William James speculated:

Our virtues are habits as much as our vices. All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits—practical, emotional, and intellectual—systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.

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