Benjamin Franklin didn’t accept things on tradition or by authority. He screened every behaviour and action to see what worked for him and what produced its desired effect.
For Episode #3 I’m joined by Dr. Eric Daniels to discuss The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and how you can learn to do the same.
Dr. Daniels teaches at LePort Schools – a network of private schools based on the Montessori program in southern California. Prior to moving to LePort, Eric was a professor at Clemson University’s Institute for the Study of Capitalism, as well as Duke University, and Georgetown University — completing his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin.
Eric’s 2013 talk at The 21 Convention, “The Self Made Man” (embedded below), is one of my all-time favourite lectures – a talk that I’ve watched upwards of eight times.
We cover a lot of ground here, and it’s an all-around fascinating discussion.
In the first part of our conversation we cover:
– The incredible degree of self-awareness Franklin displayed, and the systematic approach he used to gain such clarity of thought;
– The concept of “moral ambitiousness” – defining what you want, figuring out the means of getting it, and going after an outcome with everything you’ve got;
– A reality-check on the hardships of success, and what you need to do to ready yourself as a young and ambitious person.
In the second we explore:
–The culture of ‘self-making’ and the ingredients that allowed for the breakthrough of social mobility in the American 18th Century;
–The dangers of societal inertia and the necessity for growth and continual improvement;
–Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, and what it means to have self-directed success.
It was a great honour to conduct this interview.
My hope is that it will cause you to consider what you want out of live more deeply than you ever have before, reset your “internal compass”, and inspire you to formulate your own code of virtues and values to live by. A tall order indeed!
For context in the second half of questioning, for those unfamiliar with Objectivism, here’s a definition from the back cover of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.
Objectivism: an uncompromising defence of self-interest as the engine of progress.
Without further a do, here is the episode…
Download as MP3 by right clicking here and choosing “save as”.
[*] Follow Eric on Twitter @ProfDaniels
[*] Pick up your copy of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
– Eric’s talk, “The Self Made Man” (which I HIGHLY recommend watching)
– A quote from Emerson which I think sums up the “crabs in a bucket” solution wonderfully: “Envy is the tax which all distinction must pay.”
To wrap up, I’d love to hear a) what you thought of the episode, and b) what peculiar rituals this has inspired you to embrace to make yourself a more effective person. Leave a note in the comments below!