Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Miracle of Discipline

NOT all of us know and want the same things. But we all know what to do to achieve them. Sometime we need to take a vacation to a wonderful fantasy place called Someday Isle. We say that someday we will read that book. Someday, I will upgrade my computer skills to earn more money.

Probably 80 per cent of the population of this country live on someday island. They dream and fantasise about all things they are going to do “someday.” At someday Island they come down with the disease of excusitis which is invariably fatal to success. But the first rule of success is to vote yourself out of the Someday Island. No more excuses. Stop using your brain to think up elaborate rationalisations and justifications for not taking action. Do something now. Do anything. Get on with it. Losers make excuses, winners make progress. It has been said that if people put as much energy into achieving their goals as they spend making up excuses for failure, they would actually surprise themselves. But first you have to vote yourself out of the Someday Island.

Basically however, it is self-discipline that enables you to vote yourself off the Someday Island. This is the key to the success life. Without it no lasting success is possible in life. My development of self-discipline changed my life. It will change yours too. By continually demanding more from myself, I was able to catch up with my schooling. I took a master’s degree in my forties – which required thousands of hours of determined study. I discovered you can achieve any goal if you have the discipline to pay the price, to do what you need to do and to never give up.

The most important success principle of all was stated by Elbert Hubbard, one of the greatest historians of the USA, at the beginning of the 20th century. He said, self-discipline is the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not. There are 99 other success principles I have found in my reading and experience, but without self-discipline none of them work. With self-discipline nothing is impossible for your attainment. Thus, self-discipline is the key to personal greatness. It is the magic wand that opens all doors for you and makes everything possible. Which is why a person without self-discipline, even though with every blessing of background, education and opportunity will seldom rise above mediocrity. Just as lack of self-discipline is the major cause of failure, so are the two biggest enemies of success are first, the Path of Least Resistance and second, the Expediency Factor.

The Path of Least Resistance is what causes people to take the easy way out in every situation. They seek shortcuts to everything. They arrive at work at the last minute, position themselves and their cars to depart at the first opportunity. They look for get rich quick schemes and easy money.

Over time, they develop the habit of always seeking easy, faster ways to get the things they want, rather than doing what is hard but necessary to achieve real success.

The Expediency Factor, which is an extension of the law of least resistance, is even worse in its power to lead people to failure and under-achievement. It says, people invariably seek the fastest and easiest way to get the things they want, with little or no concern for the long-term consequences of their behaviour. Thus, most people do what is expedient rather than what is necessary for success. So, everyday, you must fight and win this battle with the Expediency Factor by resisting the pull of the Path of Least Resistance if you truly desire to become everything you are capable of becoming. Thus, you are what you repeatedly do, which is why excellence is a habit.

Another definition of self-discipline is self-mastery. You may only attain success when you can master your emotions, appetites and inclinations. People who lack such self-control become weak, dissolute and unreliable. Self-discipline is also defined as self-control. Your ability to control yourself, control what you say and behave consistent with your long-term goals is the hallmark of the superior person. Also, discipline has been defined as self-denial. This requires that you deny yourself of pleasures, the temptations that lead many people astray. Thus, self-discipline requires delayed gratification, the ability to put off satisfaction in the short-term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term.

In the 1960s, Dr. Edward Banfield, a Harvard University sociologist conducted a fifty-year study into the reason why some succeed where others fail in the United States. In his study, he found that the most important single attribute of people who achieve great success in life was, “long term perspective.” Banfield defined time perspective as “the amount of time an individual takes into consideration when determining his present actions.” In other words, the most successful people are long-term thinkers. They look into the future as far as they can to determine the kind of people they want to become. In fact, they set their role models as Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi or Thomas Jefferson. This practice of long-term thinking applies to work, career, marriage and personal conduct. Successful people ensure that whatever they do in the short term is consistent with where they want to be in the long term. Perhaps the most important word in long-term thinking is sacrifice. Great people have been found throughout their lives to make sacrifices in the short-term, so as to assure greater results and rewards in the long term.

Our champion for today is Norman Ernest Borlaug – A central figure in green revolution, Borlaug was born in a farm near Cresco, Iowa, United States in March 1914 to Henry and Clara Borlaug. Norman is a plant pathologist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1970. He is the one who laid the groundwork of the Green Revolution, the technological advance in agriculture that promised to alleviate world hunger.

He studied plant pathology at the University of Minnesota, earning a doctorate there in 1941. From 1944 to 1960, he researched for the Rockefeller Foundation in Mexico. There, he developed strains of grain that dramatically increased crop yields. Wheat production in Mexico multiplied three-fold at the time he worked with the Mexican government. His methods were responsible for a 60 per cent increase in wheat harvest in Pakistan and India. He also created a wheat-rye hybrid known as triticale.

Borlaug served as director of the Inter-American Food Crop Programme (1960-63) and as director of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, Mexico City, from 1964 to 1979. In constant demand as a consultant, Borlaug has served on numerous committees and advisory councils on agriculture, population control and renewable resources. He was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition for his devotion to the abolition of hunger from the globe. He is still alive and kicking at 97.

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