What Good Shall I Do This Day?

Today is the 313th Birthday of Benjamin Franklin – born on January 17, 1706!

Guest Post by Bill Treasurer

Anyone who recognizes the source of this article’s titular question knows that Benjamin Franklin had a knack for asking the right questions to get our minds moving and our priorities aligned. He was the truest of Americans, and the reason his questions and maxims have stood the test of time is that their wisdom is in many cases universal and highly applicable to both age-old dilemmas as well as our day-to-day challenges.

What good shall I do this day? Benjamin Franklin

Asking himself this each morning provided his day with immediate purpose, focus, and direction, helping to orient all of his actions and conversations for the day.

In honor of Mr. Franklin’s legacy and this incredible question we should all ask ourselves daily, here are three more questions we can ask ourselves that inform his own, and lets us make sure our answers achieve real good in the world.

1. Is our answer about goodness or productivity?

Notice the question isn’t about productivity, it’s about goodness. When most of us think about doing good, we aren’t thinking about ourselves. We do good for others. What good shall I do this day should put us in a service mindset. And while being productive might help some people you work with, it’s ultimately helping yourself surmount your challenges, not helping others.

There’s a lot of focus lately on being productive. This makes sense, given how full, fractured, and frantic our daily lives have become, but it can’t be all we focus on. It doesn’t check the box of doing good. We can, and should, do better in our daily lives.

2. What does goodness look like?

So what does count as doing good? There are infinite ways to put goodness into the world, but they all have a couple of things in common: they improve the lives of others and they aren’t done with the idea of receiving something in return.

Improving the lives of others can take so many forms! Anything from volunteering at a charity or soup kitchen to taking the time to let a friend or coworker know that you are there for them if they’re going through a rough time puts a little more positivity in the world. We all know positivity is infectious, and people pass that goodness along.

Especially for those who need it most, anything from a simple kind gesture to a larger donation (of money or your time!) goes a long way. Make your goodness as big or small as you like, but make sure it touches others and lifts them up.

3. What good have I done today?

Less well-known is the second half of Mr. Franklin’s famous question, the one he would ask at the end of his day—what good did I put into the world today?

What good did I put into the world today? Benjamin Franklin

It’s not enough to start the day with a noble intention. We must hold ourselves accountable after the sun has set and we look back on our day. It’s incredibly easy to intend to do something, but much harder to see it through—just think about all of the New Year’s resolutions that are abandoned before February! Make time each evening to carefully reflect on the actual ways you have made a positive impact on the lives of others.

As a leader, you’re in a unique position to shape the lives and careers of those who follow you—teach them to be the kind of leader that asks themselves what good they can do every morning, that wants to be of service to others instead of only to themselves.

After all, what good is a leader if they aren’t doing good?

 

 

Bill Treasurer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Treasurer is the Founder & Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting, a courage-building company that exists to help people and organizations live more courageously, and the co-author of The Leadership Killer: Reclaiming Humility in an Age of Arrogance. A former member of the U.S. High Diving Team, Bill is considered the originator of the new organizational development practice of courage-building. For over two decades, he has designed and delivered leadership and succession planning programs for experienced and emerging leaders for clients such as NASA, Accenture, CNN, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hugo Boss, UBS Bank, Walsh Construction, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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