Rising Above Adversity – Lessons from Benjamin Franklin's Story

Benjamin Franklin (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

Benjamin Franklin is best known for being one of the founding fathers of the United States of America. But this man also wears a host of other hats – that of a printer, a writer, a statesman, a scientist, an inventor, a philosopher, an economist and a musician.

Looking at the dazzling later part of Franklin’s life, one would little expect a childhood as rocky as his. I just had a quick flick through Walter Isaacson's book, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, and an inspiring zero-to-hero story is slowly revealed.

Benjamin Franklin was sired by a man who fathered 17 children in all. Josiah Franklin was a soap maker, and could not afford to provide for all his children. This translated to Benjamin not having access to formal education.
However, Ben’s quest for knowledge led to him to voraciously read every printed word he could lay his little hands on. Ben was later direct to apprentice a printer for his older brother James Franklin who owned The New England Courant, the first newspaper in Boston.

In Philadelphia, Benjamin was working with a printer when the governor of Philly promised to help Ben set up his own shop if he traveled to London to purchase his own printing equipment. Ben readily boarded a ship to London, but was stuck in London when the governor failed to live up to his word.

The silver lining to this cloud is that he met the love of his life, whom he would marry later in his life. Ben returned to Philly later and soon set up his own printing press.

A couple of years fast forwarded, Benjamin Franklin was a respectable man renowned for his contributions to the civic world he was a part of.

Being a thinker and an ardent reader, Franklin solved the problem of few books being available in America by introducing the concept of subscription libraries, and set up the first library.

He also founded the American Philosophical Society, the first ever pool of learned minds to exist in America. He also set up the Pennsylvania Hospital to cater to the ailing. All the three organization are fully functional till date.
Franklin also brought about the first fire brigade in Philly. And his work in the field of electricity established him as a man with knowledge to be reckoned with in the field of science.

On the political front, Ben was among those who first recognized that America must be unlinked from England. He collaborated with Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration Of Independence, coaxed the French into siding with America and drafted a good number of treaties.

Benjamin Franklin, exposed to the vagaries of life early on, was relatively unperturbed by the rough hand of life. The ability to quickly rebound and advance forward is an asset that will serve us well.

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing," said B. Franklin. Rise above the gluttony of small failures and reach out for the stars to make your life note worthy.

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