Benjamin Franklin was a true renaissance man. Throughout his life he worked and succeeded in just about every profession he tried: politician, writer, scientist, engineer, and businessman.
His impact is still felt today with his signing of the United States’s Declaration of Independence, his invention of the lightning rod, and the founding of the University of Pennsylvania, among many other contributions.
Yet above all, Franklin’s best accomplishment remains his mindset. He believed that anyone could learn anything and improve into a better person. More importantly, he really lived in that belief by constantly improving and reinventing himself. He was, to say in a phrase, a role model for personal growth.
Much of his wisdom of personal growth is eloquently captured in his quotes over the years. Here are 6 Benjamin Franklin quotes that will change the way you think.
“If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
There are all kinds of talk about where one should invest their money. Stocks, bonds, real estate, Bitcoin, or any of the other hundreds of options.
All of those investments have a chance of making you money, but also a chance to lose some, even all of it in some situations.
Franklin preferred a better and more consistent investment: investing in his own knowledge.
When you spend money to have new experiences, build new things, or learn new skills, you gain knowledge in the form of lessons and memories. Those can never be taken away from you as they have become a part of your own mind, your own experience, and your own life.
You can gain a new understanding of how to accomplish your goals, new skills for both work and play, and new experiences that inspire you. Such knowledge can be used for years to come to create even more knowledge, wealth, and joy.
How to apply it
Look for ways to invest your money that will grow your knowledge. It could be things like:
- Online courses
- Meeting and talking to new people
- Travelling to new cities and countries
- Memberships to mastermind groups
You can use the things you learn from such investments for the rest of your life. You will likely make even more money from that knowledge too.
“Content makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor.”
Although Franklin was very successful and became quite wealthy, he still had the mindset of being content.
To be content is to be happy with what you have, no matter what it is. To be discontent is the opposite, where you are never happy with your life.
You could have a net worth of a billion dollars, have the sexiest body, and even be Hollywood-famous. But if you still want more and more and more, then you’ll never be satisfied. There’s always the next step to look forward to, so you miss out on what you currently have. In a way, people who are discontent are very poor — they are poor in their mindset and happiness.
Those who are content are the true rich, for they can be happy in any situation. Every day, every experience, and every moment has joy for them, because they are content. They are rich in the things that matter: mindset and happiness.
How to apply it
Find a way to smile every single day, in whatever way that you can.
A great way to do this is to user affirmations. If you’re ever feeling discontent, say to yourself things like:
- “This is amazing, I am happy”
- “I’m in such a good mood”
- “I’ve been making great progress”
By making such affirmations whether it be in writing, in your head, or out loud, you will convince your mind that it is so.
“Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
Time is the most valuable thing you have; it’s important to make good use of it.
Many of us say that we value our time, but we don’t honour our words. Hours are spent binge-watching Netflix or scrolling endlessly through TikTok videos. The average American spends 4 hours per day watching TV.
But just think: how much would you be able to accomplish if you took that time and spent it on something more meaningful?
- Starting a business
- Spending more time with your family
Or anything else you’re passionate about.
Most of us have some time that we could be spending on better, more meaningful endeavours. Franklin is saying that if we really, truly love life, we should act like it and treat our time with love, using it in the best way possible.
How to apply it
Keep track of how much time you spend on each thing throughout your day in a note, agenda, or calendar. Only that which is measured can be improved.
Once you have a good idea of how much time you spend on each item, you can look to replace the time-wasters with more meaningful things.
“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
Not every success came to Franklin so easily.
He dropped out of his brother’s business because he wasn’t allowed to write in it. His first printing business failed miserably. He wasn’t popular at all among other politicians early in his career.
Yet he was still able to go on to accomplish a great deal, through his secret formula: energy and persistence.
Energy, to always pour passion into his work, to always seek excellence, and to do one’s best.
Persistence, to never give up, to keep fighting no matter what obstacles, challenges, or failures come up.
There is literally nothing that hard work over time cannot accomplish. If it doesn’t work today, you try again tomorrow. And the next day, and the next. By never giving up, you always have that chance of succeeding. Even if it’s just 1%, that’s bigger than the 0% you get from quitting.
How to apply it
If you’ve decided that something is important to you, then don’t put the option of giving up in your head. You will eventually get what you want if you just keep trying.
It is helpful to remember the following:
- If you give up, you have a 0% chance of succeeding
- If you keep going, you have a greater than 0% chance of succeeding
There is only one good option.
“If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.”
Although we like to believe that we humans are rational thinkers, that’s not always the case when it comes to persuasion.
Many of our decisions are driven by our emotions. Just think of the friend that decided to get married after 3 months because their partner was attractive. Or how it’s not often the best product, but the best looking product that gets the most sales.
Emotions are far more stimulating to our minds than logic and reason. We like things that are flashy, exciting, fun, happy, and sexy. In a nutshell, We like things that look and feel good.
Having an understanding of how emotions drive people will help you to excel in many things. Sales, business, work, making friends, and developing relationships all involve real human emotions.
Think of how your words and actions will make a person feel. Once you do, you will find that you are much more in control of your ability to persuade and influence them.
How to apply it
When you are trying to persuade someone, or alternatively trying to understand the reason why someone would make a particular decision, ask yourself:
- What excites this person?
- What do they find interesting?
- What do they think is attractive?
- What would make them feel good?
Being able to answer those questions will unlock the understanding of why people do what they do, and how to influence them as a result. It is much better than trying to think of what is “right” or “correct.”
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Reading is a wonderful thing to do for gaining knowledge. Franklin loved to read himself. So is being in the classroom or having someone teach you something. Franklin was also an apprentice for a time.
But those learnings don’t really make an impact on you until you apply them directly in your own life. Experience is always the best teacher.
When you read or hear something, it only makes a small imprint in your mind. Think about when you read something online and people say “work smart and you’ll succeed” or “just invest in stocks to make money.”
But you don’t get good at working smart by reading about it, nor do you become rich by reading how to invest. It’s useful information certainly, but it’s not yet valuable while it remains in your head.
Only after you apply your knowledge will you internalize the true implications of it. You get direct, real-world results that demonstrate the practical consequences, whether good or bad, of your actions.
You should always strive to live through action. It’s the only way to create really value. Action is the way to knowledge and success in the long-run.
How to apply it
For everything that you learn whether it be through reading, from a teacher, or by observation, always ask yourself: “how can I apply this in my life?”
Doing so will help to guide and encourage you to apply all that you learn, thus really making it valuable and creating real-world results.
A wonderful exercise for this when it comes to reading is to attach an action to each new thing that you learn. For every note (mental or physical) you make, write down a real-world action that you will take to implement it.
Above all, Benjamin Franklin was a master of personal growth, always looking to improve himself, to better his life and the lives of those around him.
If we can adopt such a mindset, one that always strives for improvement, then we have hope to become successful as well. Little by little, we improve one step at a time. It’s all about the mindset that personal growth is possible.
You don’t need to be rich or have any secret advantages. You just need to be open to learning and improving, and to put in the effort to do so. As Franklin would say, your energy and persistence will eventually pay off.