Live a Useful Life or Die Rich – Benjamin Franklin

February 16th, 2012 | No Comments |

Benjamin Franklin - Live a Useful LifeBenjamin Franklin is a figure of our history, experiencing success as a businessman, politician, inventor and life in general. A study of his life could prove extremely useful to someone aspiring to walk the same or similar path as he did. And for those of you who feel that keeping a journal is a waste of time, imagine the lessons that would have been lost if Benjamin Franklin had that same point of view. If you feel your life is important, it might be a good idea to jot some things down every once in a while. Your life will probably have more of an impact than you realize if you choose to do so.

I also encourage you to choose for yourself council, and when I speak of council, I mean appointed men and women who inspire you. It’s more or less a board of directors, a group of people you can ask questions to and confide in when making important decisions. These people can be dead or alive, and they don’t even have to know they are on your board of directors. Benjamin Franklin is one of my personal directors and his wisdom and learning effects certain decisions I currently make and will make in the future. Principles are eternal, only if we put them to good use.

The Counsel of Benjamin Franklin

There are many things we can learn from Ben, however, the one I want to touch upon was said in a conversation with his mother. He stated that he would rather it be said of him, “he lived useful,” rather than, “he died rich.”

As an entrepreneur, this principle is always on my mind. I find myself constantly asking the question, “Are the products and services I offer helping people?” And when I say, “helping people,” I mean more than just financially. Now don’t get me wrong, I love helping people make money so they can live out their dreams, but money isn’t everything. I’ve seen too many people forfeit their integrity, morality and all family ties in the pursuit of riches. Money only means something if you can remain loyal to who you are, and this is done by living a useful life.

Can’t We Have Both?

I’ve seen this question in almost every personal development book I’ve had the opportunity to read. It’s the classic “this or that” scenario. We were taught this method of reasoning as children and as many of us matured into adults, we just weren’t able to shake it. It is one of the best methods of control for parents. And it goes something like this, “Either you can stop your whining right now or I can give you a spankin’!” When my kids are throwing a fit, I prefer, “Do you want a spanking or a hug?” They’ll always ask for a hug. Try it. It works!

So we’re all raised with having to choose between one thing or the other. However, there are certain scenarios where there has to be a choice. Just as good and evil cannot exist in the same place at the same time, certain things just can’t mesh together. However, living a useful life and accumulating riches can! In fact, they should.

Living a Useful Life is the Best Kind of Business

The business of helping people can either be the most lucrative or the least lucrative ventures. It depends on your approach. You can do some of one and more of another, but depending on which you do more, that action will reflect in your income. The success of your business, measured in capital profits, is directly related to who your customer is. If you are targeting communities with a lower income, your income will be lower. No secret there. However, if your target customers are those with some extra cash, then you’ll be more profitable, while still being able to help others.

TOM’s Shoes is a prime example. For every pair sold, a pair is donated to someone in need. His target customer isn’t the less fortunate. They are his cause. The target customer is you and I, the ones with some extra cash and a good heart. (Assuming you have a good heart. I’ll take my chances!) TOM’s is a black a white scenario where it’s obvious why he started his business. Even if your product isn’t going to be directly donated, your time and your resources can.

Conclusion

In my mind, it’s obvious that I connect the two phrases shared to Benjamin Franklin’s mother. I see it like this, if you’re a good businessman and a good person at the same time, you’ll die rich because you lived a useful life. Your legacy will live longer than you will, and others will speak more of the service you rendered to others than the fortune you gained from doing so.

Another great resource on this topic, one of my favorite blogs, The Art of Manliness on Personal Finance Lessons from Benjamin Franklin.

David Allred is the author and creator of CFW. David has been teaching entrepreneur minded people how to earn a full time income working from the comfort of home for nearly a decade.

Think about it. Never miss your kids’ events, set your own schedule, choose your own income and enjoy a lifestyle and income which most people only drool over!

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