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.
As we begin, let me give you this reminder from the Word of God. Colossians 3:23 says: "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men."
Vince Lombardi said, “The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.”
Today, we are continuing with part 2 of the section titled, "Attitude Adjustment".
The book is written in a conversation format, and today’s conversation starter is: So procrastination is bad and we should all try to do something about it. But it still seems that with the innumerable problems besetting each of us, the question of whether we do something today or tomorrow is hardly a primary concern.
As a matter of fact, it is. So often it is the key to those other problems, large or small. Consider, for example, typical procrastinators whose problems are either created or intensified by delay:
These people and institutions wouldn't see themselves as having much in common, but they share several things:
All varieties of procrastination, in fact, involve self-delusion of one kind or another. They involve denial of reality, and refusal to weigh penalties and alternatives objectively.
In other words, you are saying that procrastination is stupid.
Exactly. It's a form of game-playing. And idiotic game-playing at that, because we ourselves are invariably the losers. In the words of the poet Robert Abrahams:
Some men die by shrapnel
And some go down in flames,
But most men perish inch by inch
In play at little games.
Overcoming procrastination means giving up the games and being honest with ourselves.
Thank you for tuning in to the "Get Things Done" podcast. The simple purpose of this podcast is to help you get things done every day so that you can accomplish something worthwhile with your life. I am a firm believer that God has put each person on earth to do something great for His glory. My name is Daniel Whyte III, founder and president of GLM Omnimedia Group LLC.
In this podcast, we are going through the book "Doing It Now" by Edwin C. Bliss. I had just finished speaking at a meeting in Philadelphia many years ago, and as I was walking through the airport, I picked up this little book and read it in its entirety. It is one of the best books that I have ever read on this subject, and along with prayer and the power of God, it is one of the reasons why I have accomplished so much in my life. Today, I want to share with you some of the principles that Edwin C. Bliss talks about in his book.
As we begin, let me give you this reminder from the Word of God. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."
Leonardo da Vinci said, “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
The first thing Edwin Bliss talks about in his book is "Attitude Adjustment". The book is written in question and answer format, as though he were sitting down talking with you over lunch.
The first question is: Procrastination seems to be a universal fact of life. Shouldn't we just accept it as part of human nature and let it go at that?
Not at all. Some people do, of course, but they generally turn out to be the ones who are defeated by life.
But when something is so widespread, isn't it rather pointless to fight it?
No. Disease is widespread, but we don't shrug our shoulders or ignore it. The important thing is not how widespread a problem is but whether something can be done about it. And in the case of procrastination it can.
Are you sure? Where is the evidence that this problem can be overcome?
The evidence is found in the life of every successful human being. Successful people do not procrastinate—at least in matters relating to their field of achievement. It's as simple as that. Procrastination prevents success.
Wait a minute. Surely you can't mean that. Practically everybody admits to being a procrastinator. It's the common denominator of the human race.
Not really. It's the common denominator of people who fail to live up to their potential. It's true that nearly everyone will jokingly admit to procrastination. But when successful people do, what they are really saying is that there are some things that they would like to have done that they haven't done. That isn't the same thing as procrastination.
Maybe a definition would clarify things. Exactly what do you mean by procrastination?
I mean postponing something that you know in your heart should be done now instead of later. If you postpone a task in order to do something that really has greater importance and urgency, you can't accuse yourself of procrastination.
So what you're saying is that procrastination and justifiable delay are two different things.
Of course. And learning to distinguish between them is what this book is all about. That, and learning what to do when you catch yourself committing the sin of procrastination.
Did you say 'sin'?
Isn't that putting it a bit strongly? It's a bad habit, admittedly. Even a peccadillo, perhaps. But surely it can't be called a sin!
It certainly can. As any theologian will tell you, sin comes in two varieties. The sin of commission gets all the attention, but in the words of Ogden Nash:
It is the sin of omission, the second kind of sin,
That lays eggs under your skin.
The way you get really painfully bitten
Is by the insurance you haven't taken out and
the checks you haven't added up the stubs of and
the appointments you haven't kept and
the bills you haven't paid and
the letters you haven't written.
Also, about sins of omission there is one particularly painful lack of beauty,
Namely, it isn't as though it had been a riotous red letter day
Or night every time you neglected to do your duty;
You didn't get a wicked forbidden thrill
Every time you let a policy lapse
Or forgot to pay a bill;
You didn't slap the lads in the tavern on the back and loudly cry,
“Whee, let's all fail to write just one more letter before we go home,
And this round of unwritten letters is on me.”
No, you never get any fun
Out of the things you haven't done,
But they are the things that I do not like to be amid,
Because the suitable things you didn't do
Give you a lot more trouble than the unsuitable things you did.
In this matter of doing things when they should be done, I think that if we can become saints instead of sinners, we will live happier, healthier, and more productive lives.
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We will continue this discussion regarding an attitude adjustment toward procrastination in our next podcast.
Now, let’s pray together --
Almighty and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.
Now, the greatest secret to getting things done with your life for the glory of God is to have the Lord Jesus Christ in your life. When you have Jesus in your life, you can say with Paul in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, John 3:16 states, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can have a home in Heaven. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
God bless you, and remember: if you have something to do, there is no better time to do it than now.