templeton-planToday we’ll continue our exploration of John Templeton’s twenty-one steps detailed in The Templeton Plan by focusing on Step 4: Putting First Things First. What are these so-called “first things” in business? Making a basic business plan perhaps? Maybe he’s referring to performing the necessary market research? Or could he be suggesting that we develop a firm understanding of elementary economic principles?

Actually, it’s none of the above. Here’s how he explains this principle in The Templeton Plan:

All of us believe in virtue, but few of us give much thought to the varieties of virtue that exist and to their relative spiritual weights. One of the best methods for examining virtues is to try to decide in your own mind which virtues you think are the most important. Draw up a list of them. What virtue would you put first? In what order would you assign their importance? No two people will compile the same list, but the effort of preparing it will help you clarify your thinking.

All of us have been taught that crime does not pay and, of course, it’s true. Crime of any kind is a sin and leads to failure. The virtues provide the underpinning for success in life, both in business and spiritually. Study the virtues. Start family discussions around the dining room table, having each member draw up his or her list of virtues. This can also be done in college classrooms, or at church prayer meetings, or wherever people gather socially. Encourage others to draw up their own list of virtues in order of importance. There is no surer way of growing spiritually than to discuss and study priorities in the field of virtues.

The purpose of The Templeton Plan is to help people become successful in the full sense of that word. No matter what career you might embark on, success comes from knowing the importance of the virtues. It is not enough to live them unconsciously; you must struggle to know them and live them consciously.