Not too long ago, I was talking to a good friend of mine who was a former head football coach at a major university. He is an outstanding individual. He is also a very good businessman. I have learned a lot from him and appreciate our friendship very much. He was sharing with me that there were two things that he was never able to teach anyone. I was immediately intrigued by that thought because, in my opinion, he is the kind of individual who could teach anything to anybody! As I mentioned earlier, he was a football coach on the college level for years, so I am sure he had opportunities to teach a lot of young men many great lessons. When he said there were two things he could not teach, I was anxious to find out what those qualities were.
The two things were self-discipline and ambition. He told me that as hard as he tried over the years to instill those two qualities in others, he finally realized that they have to come from within an individual. It is possible to force someone to have some self- discipline in their life and it is possible to push a person to have personal ambition to make their life better. But, if those qualities are not resident inside of a person, as soon as you quit applying the pressure, discipline and ambition will vanish very quickly.
My mind went back to the time right after I graduated from high school when I attended Gordon Military College. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. I hated it! I can still remember the sound of whistles being blown at all times of the day. They blew a whistle at 6:00 a.m. for us to get up; at 7 o’clock for us to fall out into formation; at 8 o’clock to go to class; then again at noon to notify us the end of class and time for lunch. At 5 o’clock in the afternoon they blew another whistle for us to line up for dinner; at 7 o’clock we had to be in our rooms studying; at 8:15 we had a bathroom break; at 9:30 it signaled the end of study period; and at 11 o’clock the whistle blew for Taps to be played and lights out. Did I mention how much I hated all of that?! It was awful having someone telling me what to do 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yet, as I look back on it after all these years, I now realize it was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. You see, all of the discipline that was forced upon me eventually helped me to develop self-discipline, which could come from within.
I saw a funny post this week that my daughter Susanna sent me. It said, “I am realizing that all my childhood punishments have now become my life goals. Eating vegetables, staying home, napping, going to bed early.” You see, those are all self-discipline qualities!
I believe with all my heart that what Zig Ziglar taught is true, “If you are hard on yourself, life will be easy on you. But, if you are easy on yourself, life will be hard on you.” No one is harder on me than I am on myself, and that is because I understand self- discipline. I make myself do what I need to do, even when I do not want to do it. It pays great dividends not only professionally but also personally. Because I am a responsible person, everything in my life seems to go better.
As far as ambition goes, I realize that also comes from within. I think the reason I am such an ambitious person is because I have a strong desire for the world to be a better place. I realize I am only one person, but I am one. I may not be able to do everything, but I can do something. And, by the grace of God, I will do what I can do! I want to make a difference. My own values and beliefs are burned deep inside of me. They are a strong part of my life. I see their great benefit.
I have told this story before, but I think it helps to illustrate my point. A little girl once asked her mother, “Mama, why do flowers grow?” Her mother was weary and did not know the answer so she said the first thing that came to her mind was, “I guess the seeds are just tired of being in the ground, and they just want to get up out of the dirt.” I think that is what self-discipline and ambition are all about. When you are tired of things being the way they are, you want to see things get better. You want your life to get up out of the dirt! That is something we should all desire to have in our hearts.
What about you? Do you have self-discipline and ambition in your life? I have lived long enough to agree with my friend who was a coach; no one can teach you those qualities. They must be developed from within your own heart and life. But, when they flow from within, your life takes on a whole new meaning. If you do not have those two traits, why not begin to develop them? It will not happen overnight, but you will be a winner when you possess self-discipline and ambition.
Tip: There are two things I cannot teach anyone!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm