The Master Key

That you know wisdom and instruction, Understand words of insight, Receive instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity; That prudence may be given to the simple, Knowledge and discretion to the youth (Proverbs 1:2-4)

I have come to realize that the key that opens the door to success is discipline and commitment. I have discovered that no one can succeed in a praiseworthy manner without discipline.aaa

I believe I am here to do the small things I am doing with discipline and commitment. That’s what will make it extraordinary. That’s a breakthrough for me in the sense it never dawned on me that discipline and commitment occupied such an important seat at the parliament of the heart. Discipline and commitment are the one necessary power needed to conquer, convince, and lead. A new day is dawned today. This is nothing I did not know before, but I never saw as the master key that opens all doors. The goal is to become, in the words of Matthew Kelly, the best version of ourselves. But that will require us make a choice i.e. to be disciplined and committed. Aristotle agrees with that when he said that we are to strive for excellence- arête— the act of living up to one’s full potential. That’s what later philosopher urged us to cultivate, virtue— “A good habit of the mind, by which we live righteously, of which no one can make bad use, which God works in us….” (ST I-II, Q. 55, art 4).

Little-maximus-myers-Jesus-carrying-crossThat’s what St. Paul, probably after encountering Greek philosophy, asserts:” whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Phil. 4:8). If we are to always tell the truth, do the noble thing, be pure and lovely, we will have to cultivate discipline and commitment.

It takes a lot to be disciplined all the time. Find what you want to accomplish and commit to it. Practice makes perfect. Practice allows us to master an art until it become second nature to us.child

Think about it, all the historical figures given as an exemplar of life have employed discipline in their lives in order to accomplish extraordinary things. They made a choice—I am sure it has taken them time and grind to find the right one— and they commit to it and work at it with every fiber of their being. They give their whole life to it. Their name is written in the history book because they practice discipline. They listen well. They look for help and were committed to something. They believe in something to the point they would die for it. They had a dream. They make it a reality.

Take Itzhak Perlman for example, one of the gods of music, and Jewish composer who won 15 Grammy and 4 Emmy awards for his works. He is said to be a genius performer. How many hours did he practice per day before he was known? 9 hours. Before he became known was reduced to 4 hours of violin practice in the morning and 5 in the afternoon.

One day, he put an extraordinary performance at a concert in Vienna; afterward people came to greet and congratulate him. One member of the audience who was wowed by his performance said to him: “I would give my entire life to be as great as you are”. Perlman responds: “I have”. He has given up everything to follow this one dream. Today, he is on top of the world. How did he get to be so great? He found what he likes, committed to it, and stuck to it with discipline and commitment wholeheartedly.

Those Olympians we admire watching, do you think they get to be so good overnight or without commitment and discipline? Do you think they practiced only when they felt like it? Do you think they ever take the minimalist attitude i.e. “what is the least I can do to be an Olympic champion?” Was it easy for them to wake up every morning, eat the right food, and go to bed at a certain time regularly? When they go out there, did their body always cooperate? Yet, they keep the faith. They fight the fight. They pushed themselves to the maximum of the ability. They invest their heart, mind, and soul to achieve what they believe in. A few years later, they amaze us with their skills and their arts. They are now famous. They won the prize.Perseverance pays off. The reward is delicious.

Discipline and commitment are the mother of all other arts. On the heights besides the way, in the roads that lead to success they browse; beside the gate that leads to the top, they stand. At the entrance of our house, they beg to be given a place of refuge. In their bosom insight is found and strength resides. Look for their instruction and knowledge instead of wealth and goods. By them, kings reign and issue judgments. They who pursue them find enduring wealth and prosperity. Their fruits are better than gold. So in choosing discipline and commitment, we get everything else. Choose wisely!

YOU ARE IMPORTANT!!!!!!

The truth about the human person is that he wants to feel appreciated. Though we don’t want to admit it, though we want to remain humble, we secretly like when people speak well about us. That’s why we feel bad when they speak ill, and try with every fiber of our being to be the best version of ourselves in order to be on people ‘s good side, most of time. Aristotle even went so far as to say, “no one does the wrong willingly and knowingly”. It’s human nature to want to make a difference. Well, I’ve recently learned we can kill two birds in one shot: we can simultaneously be liked and make a difference.

First, start with a smile. A smile says I like you, you make me happy, and and I am glad to see you. So, as you’re passing by someone today, don’t just simply greet him/her. Do it with a smile. I am not talking about an insincere grin, or a show of your beautiful well-arranged teeth, I mean a heartwarming smile that comes from within, the kind that will make a good price in the marketplace. As you wake up today, greet your husband or wife with a ‘good morning my dear ’ and smile as you say it, and you tell me the difference it makes. As you’re meeting your co-worker, pastor, friends, strangers in the next few days, do it with a nice smile that tell them what you’re about, and you’ll see how much people start to change their attitude toward you. They will want to know about that medication you’re taking, so to speak. Only one requirement, be sincere!

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Secondly, be interested in people. “Don’t be selfish. Don’t think everything has to be about you”, says Dale Carnegie. Let others speak. Don’t cut them off. Actively participate in the conversation. Look the person in the eyes. Make him/her feel that he/she is the most important thing in your life at this specific moment. We all like that. Take time to listen to people and listen interestedly. Ask questions. A study by the FBI found that people act on emotion rather than reason and that leads to violence and bad decision making. I think one of the ways to remedy that malady is to give people a chance to speak. The more you let a person speak, especially if there is anger, the quicker the emotion will subside and the mind will calm and there is a greater chance for a happy ending. So kindness, understanding, and good attention in conversation lead to more enjoyable and fruitful outcomes. Everyone wins.

Finally, make people feel important. You and I have a tendency to think that we are the most important person in the whole world, however that does not work. We are most important when we make people feel they are the most important. That’s a universal truth. Philology, all the philosophies, and religious systems—be it Plato, Aristotle, Buddha, Confucianism, Taoism, Jesus— have taught it in one form or another: ”do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. So next time, you see someone down, try to compliment him/her. That will raise up her/his spirit, and you never know, that might start a conversation that saves the day. We all have something worth being praised for. I know what you’re thinking: “what if I don’t find anything worthy of praise?” well, a nice office, a nice smile, a courageous act, an act of kindness, success, a good home or car, how one overcame a struggle etc. etc. are all worth a praise. Do you want people at your office to be more productive? Start praising them on what they are doing well. Tell them how important they are to the place. And you’ll see the difference. For a reason that I ignore, we all like being praised. We like knowing that WE ARE IMPORTANT. It brightens our day; it gives us confidence to go forward. It incentivizes us when we know someone had paid attention. That’s human nature. Again, one requirement, be genuine. No one wants to listen to cheap, insincere praise, or flattery.