Strive for progress, not perfection

By Hank Stratford on February 10, 2014

Stratford Hank websiteWhen Benjamin Franklin was 20 he launched an ambitious plan to achieve “moral perfection.” His plan included identifying 13 virtues and then systematically focusing on each virtue. Mr. Franklin worked on these virtues throughout his life. During the process he discovered he was surprised “to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined.” The 13 virtues Franklin chose were: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, chastity, tranquility and humility.

In Clayton, our striving for personal self-improvement includes a community-wide, character building initiative called Do the Right Thing, which emphasizes six character traits throughout the year – Courage, Responsibility, Respect, Kindness, Integrity and our current trait – Self-discipline.

I think anyone who has tried to improve oneself has, as Benjamin Franklin wrote, discovered more personal faults than originally imagined.

However, I believe that discouragement and self-doubt are the two biggest obstacles that keep us from improving. I hope that we can avoid these two hazards as we work systematically to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.

One of the reasons I love living in Clayton is the people. I have been fortunate to glimpse the efforts made by many of you to improve our schools, our safety, our neighborhoods – in general, our quality of life. At the end of a day it is a great place to come home to.

Feel free to contact me with questions and comments at

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