The Sum of Small Steps

He failed arithmetic in grammar school. Yet he went on to successfully manage his

own business for over twenty years and amassed a considerable fortune.

His formal education ended at the age of ten, but he is famous for his knowledge and wisdom. He mastered five languages and was honored by major American and European universities as an inventor and scientist.

He described himself as an ineffective public speaker but proved highly persuasive in numerous elected offices as he helped shape our emerging nation.

You know who he is. Occasionally, you get to hold his picture. You learned about Benjamin Franklin in school.

Ironically, you probably weren’t told much about how Franklin became so successful. You may assume that he was helped by his influential family. He didn’t have one. You might conclude that he got a lucky break. No such luck. You might think that he was smarter than others, but it was not genius to which Franklin himself attributed his success.

In his Autobiography, Franklin says it was hard work, self-discipline, and self-control that brought his success. As early as ten, he decided to read every book he could possibly borrow or buy. At the age of sixteen while serving as a printer’s apprentice, he became a vegetarian to save lunch money for books and to have more time to read during his lunch break.

Franklin also followed a written daily schedule to ensure that he used his time productively. He developed a checklist of thirteen virtues on which he graded himself daily to monitor his performance and plan improvement in those areas – virtues like temperance, frugality, humility, and industry.

Franklin climbed to greater heights than most, not because of raw talent, but because he worked hard at it. From his father, he often heard the words of a famous wise man of a preceding era, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings” (Proverbs 22:29).

Ben Franklin found those words to be true. He wrote, “I did not think that I should ever literally stand before kings, which however has since happened – for I have stood before five, and even had the honor of sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner.”

Where one ends the journey depends on the steps taken along the way. As you walk through your days, make each step in a positive direction.