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  • Charles Hodge

Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues Tracking

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Although massively flawed, Ben Franklin was undoubtedly a great man. One of his greatest gifts to society was his 13 Virtues Tracking System. He devised 13 virtues and tracked his adherence to them each day in a notebook that never left his side. If he failed at a virtue, he would place a dot beside it in his notebook, with the goal being to have no dots at the end of each day.

Franklin's original 13 Virtues, as described in his book, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, are:

  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness. 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.

  7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and if you speak, speak accordingly.

  8. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

  9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes, or habitation.

  11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

  12. 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.

  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

The 13 Virtues were rotated each week, for 13 weeks, and then the cycle began again. I don’t know if Franklin's virtues list remained constant, as I know mine pulse and change over time, but it is inconsequential, as I find this model functional, practical, and relevant. It is a good tool, to manage Integrity Matrix adherence. Thanks.


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