Ben’s Virtues, Core Values, and Patience

Ben Franklin has a solid set of virtues that just about anyone can apply, even today. 

He used the card on the right to focus on each value once a week for 13 weeks, thus cycling through the entire list 4 times a year.

Ben’s Virtues 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 employ’d 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 uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
  11. Tranquillity. 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.

There’s an outdated and thus terrible app in the App Store by the name of Ben’s Virtues, and while it will crash and not work, I love the concept of reproducing this chart on your smartphone for daily recording.


Taylor Pearson recently published an essay titled How to Discover Your Values and Use Them to Make Better Decisions. I spent some time this morning going through his exercise. I’d recommend taking the time to do it yourself.

If you take the time to go through that exercise, or at least read through his essay (admittedly, like most of his excellent content, it’s too long), you’ll realize that this list of values that you come up with at the end is intended to be iterated on. It’s not a final list. You’ll adjust it as things change and you gain a better understanding of where you’re at and what’s important to you.

I wound up inculding “Patience” as one my core values… and wrote as the description “Always wait calmly for what you want. Getting worked up over delays is not helpful”.

I jumped over to check Slack, and noticed that someone still had not completed a 2-minute task that an hour earlier I indicated as urgent. I started getting worked up. Then I looked down at this thing I had wrote on the page called “Patience“.

I’m thinking perhaps I should add another core value, called “Impatience: Always get pissed at the person who takes too long to do a simple task” – It’s probably more accurate!