“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent” — Calvin Coolidge
Monday, 8:30 a.m.
At the age of 17 a young man ran away from home. He ran from Boston to Philadelphia. He illegally ran away from a printing apprenticeship and an abusive relationship with his older brother. He ran towards becoming an American Statesman and one of the Founding Fathers of the Unites States.
Before signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776 as an elected member of the Second Continental Congress, this American icon was a successful businessman, inventor and public figure. He started the first subscription library, the first fire department and he earned international recognition for his work with electricity.
Benjamin Franklin is a true rags to riches story. He arrived in Philadelphia with only enough money to buy two rolls and went on to become one of the most important figures of his time. How did he do this?
Benjamin Franklin was committed to improving himself. At age 20 he identified 13 virtues he felt he needed to improve upon — Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquility, Chastity and Humility. He carried a small notebook with seven columns, one for each day of the week, and 13 rows, one for each virtue. At the end of each day he would put a dot next to a virtue he had failed to meet.
He would focus on one virtue per week. After 13 weeks and 13 virtues he would repeat the process. By the end of one year he had worked on each virtue four times for a total of four weeks. Benjamin Franklin wrote of his efforts,
“Tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”
We are born with perfect potential. We are not, however, born as finished products. If we want to improve our lives and teach our children how to improve their lives, then we must be like Benjamin Franklin. We must endeavour to reveal our true selves.
It is rumored that when asked about his most famous statue, David, Michelangelo replied that he simply removed the unneeded marble to reveal what was already there. When born, we are like that block of marble, with the potential for great beauty already inside.
If we care to, our goal as a person is to release our potential. If we care to, our responsibility as a parent is to help our children learn how to release theirs.
Over the next few weeks, I will outline some tools, “virtues” if you will, that you can use to release your potential. My aim, is that each week you will apply one of these tools to your own life and, in doing so, pass them onto your teen for him or her to use.
This is a life long journey. It is a process not a destination. No matter what age, we can start to chip away at the marble. Maybe you were not shown as a child how to do this. That’s OK. Or Maybe you just forgot how to use the tools. That’s OK too. It doesn’t matter where you are, how old you are or who you think you are, you can take any two year, any three year, any five year period and change your life dramatically for the better. You can start chipping away at the marble today and five years from know your whole life will have improved.
More importantly you will have modeled for your children how to get the most out of all of they’ve got. So pick up the chisel and lets begin.
We will focus on twelve specific areas. I’ve modeled these twelve areas after James E. Loehr, Ed.D. and his ground breaking books, The New Toughness Training For Sports and Toughness Training For Life.
|Body||Flexible Body||Strong Body||Responsive Body||Resilient Body|
|Mind||Flexible Mind||Strong Mind||Responsive Mind||Resilient Mind|
|Emotions||Flexible Emotions||Emotional Strength||Responsive Emotions||Emotional Resiliency|
Our goal is to improve our balance — in our bodies, our minds, our emotions and ultimately our lives. We can do this by developing flexibility, strength, responsiveness and resiliency in our body, mind, and emotions. Once balanced, we can grow and expand our horizons.
Imagine the wheel of a bicycle. In this wheel are spokes. If one spoke is broken or bent or is not there then the wheel is not true. It wobbles. When going slowly the wobble is manageable. When the speed increases, the wobble becomes more and more noticeable until it becomes impossible to control the bike.
Each spoke of the wheel represents a part of our lives. If spokes are broken or bent or not there, then we can only handle a certain amount of speed, or stress, or challenge in our life. If, we try to pick up the pace, to do more, to try more, it becomes harder and harder to maintain control. Before we can go faster, we must first balance our life. We must first true our wheel.
Each week for the next twelve weeks we will focus on one spoke. We will start with our body, since without it we can do very little. Then we will move to our mind and finally our emotions. On week thirteen we will see how we did. Then, like Benjamin Franklin, we will repeat the process.
One year from now we will have cycled through these twelve areas four times. Please join me for this journey of self-revelation and personal discovery. See you next week.
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