Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sloth

I recently devoured Walter Isaacson’s terrific biography, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. Poor Richard had an entertainingly eclectic, curious, witty and enterprising spirit. He was the inventor and proprietor of much, and an acclaimed author and business strategist. A tireless entrepreneur who enjoyed creating and sharing prose: My kind of guy.

Entrepreneurship is hard. If it wasn’t, most everyone would do it – the rewards and virtues of starting, running and harvesting a business are too great. I’ve yet to meet a successful entrepreneur who did not work hard. Perspiration, and lots of it, is an ante to entrepreneurship. In his tidy, 17-page pamphlet, The Way to Wealth, Franklin takes aim at sloths. Here’s an encapsulation:

But idleness taxes many of us much more, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute sloth, or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle employments or amusements, that amount to nothing. Sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used key is always bright, as Poor Richard says. But dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of, as Poor Richard says. How much more than is necessary do we spend in sleep! forgetting that the sleeping fox catches no poultry, and that there will be sleeping enough in the grave, as Poor Richard says.

If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be, as Poor Richard says, the greatest prodigality, since, as he elsewhere tells us, lost time is never found again, and what we call time-enough, always proves little enough: let us then be up and be doing, and doing to the purpose; so by diligence shall we do more with less perplexity. Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy, as Poor Richard says; and he that riseth late, must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night. While laziness travels so slowly, that poverty soon overtakes him, as we read in Poor Richard, who adds, drive thy business, let not that drive thee; and early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
Given our recent piece about scarcity – in a market and marketing sense – Franklin’s “lost time is never found again” is timely and appropriate. Take a few minutes to enjoy the read … it’s worthy.

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