During his early youth, he was seriously handicapped by chronic asthma and weak eyes. His friends despaired of his ever regaining his health, but he did not share their views, thanks to his recognition of power of self – discipline.
He joined a group of hard – hitting outdoor workers, and placed himself under a definite system of self-discipline, through which he built a strong body and a resolute mind. He disagreed with doctors that said he could not do it.
In his battle to regain his health, he acquired such perfect discipline over himself that he entered into politics, and kept on driving until he became President, of the United States of America.
While he was President some army officials complained of an order he gave them to keep physically fit. To show that he knew what he was talking about, he rode horseback a hundred miles, over rough Virginia roads, with the army officials trailing after him, trying hard to keep pace.
Behind all this physical action was an active mind, which was determined not to be handicapped by physical weakness, but released for action only by self – discipline, and by no other means. His name? Theodore Roosevelt!
According to Andrew Carnegie, “The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of everything else to which he is justly entitled.” That reminds me of an interesting story. A biologist once experimented with what he called “Processional caterpillars.” He lined up caterpillars on the rim of a pot that held a plant so that the lead caterpillar was head – to – tail with the last caterpillar, with no break in the parade. The tiny creatures walked around the rim of the pot for a full week before they died of exhaustion and starvation. Not once did any of the caterpillars break out of the line and venture into the plant to eat. Food was only inches away, but the follow – the – leader instinct was even stronger than the drive to eat and survive!
Thomas Huxley said, “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.”
Guy de Maupassant’s The Necklace is the story of a young woman, Mathilde, who desires desperately to be accepted into the high society. One day, her husband, an ordinary man, is given an invitation to an elegant ball. Mathilde borrows a necklace from a wealthy friend to wear to the occasion. During the course of the evening, she receives many compliments from the aristocrats present… but she also loses the necklace.
In order to restore the lost jewelry, Mathilde’s husband borrows 36,000 francs, tapping every resource available to him. A look-alike necklace is created and Mathilde gives it to her friend, telling her nothing of what had happened.
For ten years, the couple slaves to pay back the borrowed francs, each of them working two jobs. They are forced to sell their home and live in a slum. When the debt is finally cleared, Mathilde sees her well-to-do friend one-day. She confesses that the necklace she returned is not the one she borrowed, and she learns: the necklace loaned to her had been made from fake gemstones! The borrowed necklace had been worth less than 500 francs.
He is regarded as the greatest Prime Minister England ever had, a height he attained through sheer power of his will, directed by self – discipline. He began his career as an author, but he was not highly successful in that field.
He published a dozen or more books, but none of them made any great impression on the public. Failing in this field, he accepted his defeat as a challenge to greater effort in some other field – nothing more.
Then, he entered politics, with his mind definitely set upon becoming the Prime Minister of the British Empire.
In 1837, he became a member of parliament from Maidstone, but his first speech in parliament was regarded as a failure.
He accepted his defeat as a challenge again and kept going. He became the leader of the House of Commons by 1858, and later became the Chancellor of the Exchequer. By 1868, he realized his dream of becoming the Prime Minister.
As a Prime Minister he meet with terrific opposition, which resulted in his resignation. He staged a comeback and was elected Prime Minister a second time, after which he became a great builder of Empire.
His greatest achievement perhaps was the acquisition of the Suez Canal – a feat which was destined to give the British Empire unprecedented economic advantages. The keynote of his entire career was self-discipline. His name? Benjamin.
In studying the lives of great men, I discovered that the first success in their lives is self – discipline. They control their emotions, which tries to seduce them from the way of reason. They turn failure into challenge, which spurs them to greater height.
On your journey to success, the first bridge to cross is self – discipline, and you must be careful in crossing it or if you fall into the sea of indiscipline, that might be the end of the journey.
The story is told of Frederick the Great of Prussia who was walking on the outskirts of Berlin when he encountered a very old man proceeding in the opposite direction.
“Who are you?” asked Frederick.
“I am a king,” replied the old man.
“A king!” laughed Frederick. “Over what kingdom do you reign?”
“Over myself,” was the proud reply.
“Reigning” over yourself requires self – discipline.
Aristotle remarked, “The ability to test desire by reason… to be resolute and ever in readiness to end natural vent and pain.” According to Plato, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” John Foster said, “A man without decision of character can never be said to belong to himself. He belongs to whatever can make captive of him.” In the words of H. Jackson Brown Jr., “Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller – skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backward or sideways.”
Remember, self – discipline makes discipline from the outside unnecessary.
See you at the top.


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