Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Keeping score and self-improvement

In my last post, I wrote about how Benjamin Franklin recorded and focused on his Virtues. This was part of what he called his "Moral Perfection Project." Many of us who have goals, mission statements, and the like. But how can you tell if you're doing better or worse in moving toward those aspirations?

In Walter Isaacson's book, he describes the system Ben Franklin used to track his progress as he tried to improve himself - perhaps Ben's approach will work for you. On the pages of the notebook he carried with him everywhere, Franklin made a chart with seven red columns for the days of the week and thirteen rows labeled with each of his 13 Virtues.

Each week, he focused on one line without worrying about the other lines, moving through all of them in sequence. For example, in the first week of the cycle, he focused on temperance, and any infractions were marked with a black spot of ink. In the course of a year, he would complete the thirteen week cycle four times.

By choosing one focus area each week and tracking our own infractions against that focus areas in a similar way, we might derive some of the same benefits as Benjamin Franklin.

This is another instance in which we can take courage from the fact that Franklin himself struggled with self-improvement. In fact, Isaacson's book states, Franklin's book became full of holes as he erased the marks so he could reuse pages (he eventually moved to more durable materials that could withstand being wiped clean). Franklin is quoted as saying, 'I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined."

Hear, hear!