The Thought for the Day – Benjamin Franklin

I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, if he first forms a good plan, and makes the execution of that same plan his sole study and business. – Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography

Benjamin Franklin (1706-90), of course, was a Founding Father of the United States who served his country honorably and ably in a variety of roles, from, among other things, the 6th president of Pennsylvania to the first postmaster general to minister to France where, perhaps, he was his most useful because the success of the American Revolution was due in no small measure to Franklin’s efforts there.

I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities…

We all have tolerable abilities, as Franklin puts it. Now, sure, some are blessed with greater measures of talent than others. It’s the way the world is built. But one of the earliest lessons we remember learning is that everyone can do something well. In school, some are good at math and some have a knack for singing while some are better athletes than everyone else. A disgusting few seem to be good at all of these things, but each one of us has the ability to something well.

…and makes the execution of that same plan his sole study and business.

Those that get on in this life are those who live for something more than getting from one day to the next. We must commit to something in our lives because as we like to say, no one has ever climbed Mount Everest while wandering around the Gobi Desert. You climb Mount Everest, both literally and figuratively, by setting out to climb Mount Everest. We get the most out of our lives by setting out to do just that every day. 

We do that best when we are armed with the wisdom that we know ourselves and the path we are meant to take, powered by the courage to follow that path and sustained by the patience to see our path through to the very end. Goals are not accomplished by accident, you must have the finish line in your mind’s eye when you set out.

A life well spent does not fall into anyone’s lap: we have to go and get it. It is both easy and hard. It’s easy because all we have to do is follow our hearts and trust our instincts. It’s hard because we must do it every day. Not some days and not others. Not some years and not others. Every day, until we die. 

We have an obligation to do this, too, an obligation to ourselves and our fellow beings to making our time serve us our sole study and business.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Gaylon began stockpiling quotes in 1988.

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