Proverbs 12:24 says: "The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute."
Our quote for today is from Thomas Carlyle. He said: “Nothing stops the man who desires to achieve. Every obstacle is simply a course to develop his achievement muscle. It's a strengthening of his powers of accomplishment.”
Today, we are continuing with part 4 of the section titled, "Attitude Adjustment".
"Doing It Now" is written in a conversation format, and today’s conversation starter is: Surely you have heard such phrases as “Go with the flow,” and “Don't push the river.” Don't these admonitions suggest the wisdom of accepting what life has dished out to us and enjoying it instead of going on a binge of self-admonition?
Not at all. Those phrases are perfectly valid in the proper context. It is foolish, of course, not to yield to the inevitable. But what is inevitable? One is reminded of the well-known Serenity Prayer by Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr:
O God, give us serenity to accept what cannot be changed,
Courage to change what should be changed,
And wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
As far as our own behavior is concerned, when we achieve the wisdom spoken of in that prayer, most of us will emphasize the courage part more and the serenity part less.
Life is not a situation, but a process; not static, but dynamic. Its essential element is change, and the great question facing each of us is whether we will channel that change in the direction we want to go, shaping our destiny, or whether we will permit our activities and our character to be determined by those random forces we call fate. To the extent that we procrastinate, we are following the second course.
But this all sounds like such a chore! To fight procrastination—along with all the other imperfections we all have in our makeup—seems like a never-ending process. It seems as if you are asking people to be constantly at war with themselves.
In a sense that is true. The concept of an eternal struggle within us, between good and evil, between self-mastery and self-indulgence, goes back to the Garden of Eden; it is the great theme running through life and literature. But the testament of the human race is that the battle is worth fighting, that it gives zest to life, and that victory is sweet. In the words of the Roman poet Publius Syrus: “The greatest victory is victory over self; to be conquered by self is of all things the most shameful and vile.”
Yes, it is a battle. But it can be a very satisfying one if one is on the offensive and winning victories. Remember, when one begins to win, subsequent victories become easier, as the enemy weakens. Our strength and ability to overcome procrastination grow each time we chalk up a triumph, however small.
One of the notable achievers of recent years is Ray Kroc, chairman of the board of McDonald's, the man who parleyed the humble hamburger into a fortune. He says: “The longer I live, the more importance I attach to a man's ability to manage and discipline himself...The man with the capacity for self-discipline can tell himself to do the truly important things first. Therefore, if there is not enough time to go around, and something must be neglected, it will be the less essential task. Here is the most interesting thing about the capacity for self-discipline. He who wants it may have it!...The one ingredient we most need for success is ours for the asking, for the wanting, if we only want it enough!”
Self-discipline. That's where it all starts. There's no substitute.
In his book, Excellence, John Gardiner, founder of Common Cause, puts it this way: “Some people may have greatness thrust upon them. Very few have excellence thrust upon them. They achieve it. They do not achieve it unwittingly, by doing what comes naturally; and they don't stumble into it in the course of amusing themselves. All excellence involves discipline and tenacity of purpose.