What does it mean to love discipline? Imagine a person you know that has discipline. What does this person do that classifies her as one with discipline? An individual with discipline does the right things consistently and abstains from the wrong things consistently. The person that loves discipline is also a lover of knowledge.
But why? What does knowledge have to do with discipline? If discipline is the path we should be on, then knowledge is the guide that will keep us on it. How else are you going to know which direction to go?
Knowledge is essential to staying on the path of discipline. Knowledge without discipline, however, will do you little good. There are too many people full of knowledge with no fruits to show from it. Their knowledge is useless if it is not being used. But knowledge coupled with discipline, now that is a powerful combination. It is a combination that allows a person to make better choices, adapt when needed, and move forward. Who can stop a person like that?
Keep moving on the path. Get the knowledge along the way that will keep you on the straight and narrow. This knowledge will come from many sources. Weigh it, consider it, and embrace it if it is true.
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates reproof is stupid. -Proverbs 12:1
There are five hills on my usual running route. Four of them are only 100-200 meters in length with a moderate incline. When I get to these hills, I attack. I pick up my pace and run them as fast as I can. The fifth hill is different. It is about four times longer and has just a slight, barely noticeable incline. This hill is deceptive. It is stealthy. The end isn’t visible at the beginning. Running up this hill, I find that my intensity wavers. My focus will drift, and soon I will notice my pace has slowed down.
There are some battles that are easily won. They are not drawn out, and the damage is minimal. Then there are some battles that have no end in sight. They drag on and the attrition begins to affect the mind. The long drawn out battles are dangerous as the intensity wavers.
We don’t decide to be weak. We allow it to creep into our lives. We justify small decisions without considering the long-term consequences. In his book, Discipline Equals Freedom, Jocko Willink explains this well:
We are defeated one tiny, seemingly insignificant surrender at a time that chips away at who we should really be. It isn’t that you wake up one day and decide that’s it: I am going to be weak. No. It is a slow incremental process. It chips away at our will- it chips away at our discipline. We sleep in a little later. We miss a workout, then another. We start to eat what we shouldn’t eat and drink what we shouldn’t drink. And, without realizing it- one day, you wake up and you become something that you never would have allowed.
That one hill is a reminder to be ever vigilant. It reminds me that without a constant focus on every action, I am susceptible to allowing weakness to creep into my life. Some of those choices may seem miniscule, a mere drop in the water. But who is to know the lasting ramifications they can have? Who is to say that slight detour doesn’t take you along a path just slightly different than the one you should be on? As Miyamoto Musashi said, “There is no end to the path of discipline.”
“And even if thou art pained because thou art not doing some particular thing which seems to thee to be right, why dost thou not rather act than complain?” -Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
You know, it is never too late to correct your course. You know the right thing to do. Not doing it gives you pain. Change the direction of your life. You are not being dealt a harsh blow. Complaining about it changes nothing. Remove the pain by doing the right thing. Action always trump wishes. Doing the right thing is a supreme act.
I spend much of my time trying to prepare my personal defenses. I want to actively put myself into position where a personal attack against me is not possible.That means I need to be physically strong, mentally strong, and of course spiritually strong. Compromising your character is out of the question. Your name, which is your most valuable asset, has to be impregnable.
When am I my weakest? When am I most easily attacked? When does the enemy, all those outside influences seeking to do you harm, have the greatest opportunity to strike. The enemy attacks when your mind is at it weakest.
Marcus Aurelius said, “You have power of your mind – not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength.” You are weakest, when you lose control over your mind. When are you susceptible to losing that control? It is when you are angry. It is hard to be angry and think straight. It is hard to make rational decisions in anger. This is when you are at your weakest. This is when you are vulnerable to attack. Remember your character is on the line. Your name is on the line. Hold the line! Do not become a victim of your own stupidity.
A city breached and left defenseless are those who do not control their temper. -Proverbs 25:28
From the day he was born, it was easy to imagine all the things he might do in life. I could see his athletic prowess on the field of play, and it didn’t even matter what field he was playing on. It didn’t matter if he still hadn’t taken his first step. The idea of him not liking sports never entered the picture of my imagination. The same imagination that envisioned a young Einstein with a certain love for reading the classics. At his earliest age, I imagined endless possibilities of what his future would bring.
But in the end, does it really matter? Who cares what sport he chooses, if he even chooses one. I hope he does, and then my hope is that he gives it everything he’s got. Along the lines of academics, my wish is that he does the best he can. I actually don’t care which direction his future goes, as long as he has just one thing. What would make me really happy about his future?
My son, if your heart is wise, my heart will also rejoice. -Proverbs 23:15
Later this week I hope to post my thoughts on being sick. That’s where I have been the last 6 days.
Knowledge can be passed on. So can understanding. You can be smart, and be without wisdom. I wish I could give you wisdom, but I cannot. You have to find it for yourself. It will not come to you overnight. It is a process. A very long, arduous process. One, that hopefully you will be striving for your whole life.
Though I can’t give you wisdom, I can give you a tip. It is a key to unlocking this door. Listen to those who are wise. Let them be your teachers. Find the ones that are on the right path and learn from them.
Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may eventually be wise. -Proverbs 19:20
Last Monday, I wrote about the way we respond to others. Now let us take it a step farther. What is your reaction to an offense? Do you have the ability to let it go? Or, do you let it fester? Maybe you vent a little to a sympathetic friend about this injustice?
I was watching a show with Alec last weekend, and he heard the the word humble. He asked what it meant. My response was the opposite of pride, which led me to explain what pride meant. Being humble is a good thing. You are less likely to be offended if you are humble.
We should not let our pride interfere with our relationships. Where is the need for conflict resolution if we prevent the conflict? Sometimes we just need to take a step back and breathe. Hey, let it go.
Whoever overlooks an offense fosters friendship, but whoever gossips separates very friends. -Proverbs 17:9
Someone is in a mood, and you are the next target. He is coming at you at you and likely has the intention of provoking an argument. He is not happy. He doesn’t want to be the only one wallowing in the muck. He wants you there right there by his side.
It could be he is not even looking for a fight. It could just be a misunderstanding. Some poor communication, bad timing, or a feeble attempt at humor that went a bit sideways.
It is easy to get caught in the trap. Maybe you are in a bad mood yourself, and this is what you have been waiting for. Don’t take the bait. You could end up in an argument you may soon regret. Once you let those words fly, you cannot get them back. Depending on your environment, your upcoming spat could have a negative impact on others.
There is another choice. There is a different path. Choose that one and immediately spot the difference.
A mild answer turns back wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. -Proverbs 15:1
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