Sometimes a mission statement can be a concise list of values defined in your own words—the approach Franklin used to guide his life toward greatness.
Through study and reading, Franklin cultivated a list of 13 virtues he considered “necessary or desirable.”
Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
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.
Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
To make sustainable progress, he focused on one virtue a week and tracked his progress in a small book. (He confessed that order was the most difficult for him!)
Franklin later wrote: “I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish… Though I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavor, a better and a happier man.”
Does Franklin’s list of values spark any ideas for your own mission statement?