I’m Getting What I Want… And It’s Incredibly Easy

Since the first week of 2012, I’ve been using a 13×4 system that I customized for myself, and I’ve been having remarkable results.  I’m more productive – I’m getting what I want… and it’s been incredibly easy.  In case you don’t know what the 13×4 system is, it’s a personal effectiveness process that was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin.

The 13×4 Is Born

It was 1728 when Franklin undertook his “bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection.” Franklin chose 13 virtues to focus on, hoping to improve his personal effectiveness and character.  It worked because he focused on only one thing at a time.  He wrote: “I judged it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and when I should be master of that, then proceed to another; and so on till I should have gone through the thirteen.”

Tom Cassidy, my colleague from England, first told me about this concept last year.  Apparently, about a decade ago, he’d seen the Franklin 13 mentioned in Frank Bettger’s classic business book, How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling.  Tom was intrigued.  He read Franklin’s autobiography and began to apply the 13×4 to his work as a teacher and later as a businessman.  He’s used it successfully with a wide variety of people, including sales teams, 5th graders, educators and company executives.  And, of course, he has his own personal 13×4 system too.

When Tom presented me with the opportunity to help him develop the 13×4 into a user-friendly program for everyone, I didn’t hesitate.  We’ve developed e-courses and are co-facilitating a workshop on April 21 to provide hands-on help to people in designing their own custom 13×4.  It’s time to let the world know about this “secret” for success!

How The 13×4 Works

Basically, the 13×4 is a year-long system with 13 focus areas that you concentrate on for one week at a time.  You determine what you’d like to focus on to raise your effectiveness.  Then you cycle through them 4 times… 13×4=52 weeks.

Since Tom has a physics background and loves to know how and why things work, he was determined to know why Franklin’s idea is so effective.  He says it’s because of something from rocket science called “The Principle of Least Action.”  There’s also some quantum mechanics involved.  While I admit that I barely understand the physics behind it, I can certainly grasp the brain science behind it, especially the part about how the RAS (Reticular Activating System) is engaged in this process.

We Want To Choose Easy

Tom and I both like choosing easy whenever possible, so we’ve simplified Franklin’s idea even further.  For example, in this modernized 13×4 approach, there’s a slight modification is in the physical model.  Franklin used a chart, we use a wheel to denote the concept of a cycle.

We also have the advantage of using fantastic technology tools to increase its effectiveness – tools that Franklin didn’t have but would probably be inventing if he were with us today!  With today’s tools, the 13×4 is practically automatic.  It takes even less pressure and minimum willpower to achieve results than when Franklin was doing it.

The FAST™ Method

I’m almost finished my first 13×4 cycle of 2012.  It’s been pretty amazing how much more productive I’ve become by using this system.  And I’ve been seeing several specific changes in my life and in my personal effectiveness due to the focus areas I’ve chosen.  Over the coming days and weeks, I’m going to share my observations here.

I’m going to capture this using a tool that Tom created called the FAST™ Method.  He suggests that you use it to help crystallize your focus areas and identify the tool you’ll use to adhere to each.  It stands for:

Your choice of


that betrays your


illustrated by your chosen


handled moment to moment by the appropriate


And, in fact, it is a great tool for preparing your 13×4.  However, what I’m going to do with it is a bit different than the way Tom intended.  I’m going to use this tool to analyze how my 13×4 is making a difference for me.

So next time, I’ll use it to format my analysis and report the results for my first week’s focus, which is Planning.  Stay tuned!


Angela Loëb helps people rediscover and use their gifts so they bring who they are to what they do in life.  http://about.me/angelarloeb

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