Five. What’s a Good Character?

When Benjamin Franklin was an old man he revealed the secret of his fulfilling life. It was, he said, a technique that he had invented in his twenties to improve his personality.

The personality that Franklin began shaping was already standing on a strong foundation. Ever since childhood he was, according to his Autobiography, “the leader among the boys.”1 But this same assertiveness cost him dearly by leading his father to withdraw him from the Boston Latin School, where he had been enrolled to prepare him for the clergy. Even though Franklin was at the top of his class and seemed destined for Harvard, then a Puritan finishing school, his father decided that he was too irreverent to be a minister and apprenticed ...

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