Niagara Falls is one of the most breathtaking spectacles in the world. Every hour thousands of tons of water flow along the Niagara River and cascade down several hundred feet of rock into the churning, raging waters below. Through man’s ingenuity the powerful force of this falling water has been harnessed and now provides an important energy source to hundreds of thousands of people.
Our own dreams can be as breathtaking and powerful as this wonder of nature. But they must also be harnessed and converted into some form of energy if they are to have any value to ourselves and to the world around us. Otherwise, they will remain only an exciting but untapped spectacle of the human imagination.
We all say that we want to succeed, but sooner or later our level of activity must equal our level of intent. Talkingabout achievement is one thing; making it happen is something altogether different.
Jim Rohn observes that some people seem to take more joy in talkingabout success than they do in achievingit. “It is as though their ritualistic chant about somedaylulls them into a false sense of security, and all the things that they shouldbe doing and couldbe doing on any given day never seem to get done.”
The consequences of this self-delusion have their own inevitable price. Sooner or later the day will arrive when they will look back with regret at all those things they could have done, and meantto do, but left undone. That is why we must push ourselves in the present to experience the milder pain of discipline. We will all experience one pain or the other the pain of discipline or the pain of regret but the difference is that the pain of discipline weighs only ounces while the pain of regret weighs tons.
ENTERPRISE IS BETTER THAN EASE
Rohn defines activity as the application of all that we know and all that we feel, combined with our desire to have more than we have and become more than we are. “If we are involved in a project, how hard shouldwe work at it? How much time shouldwe put in?”
Our philosophy about activity and our attitude about hard work will affect the quality of our lives, he cautions.
What we decideabout the rightful ratio of labor to rest will establish a certain work ethic. That work ethic — our attitude about the amount of labor we are willing to commit to future fortune — will determine how substantial or how meager that fortune turns out to be.
“Enterprise is always better than ease.” Every time we choose to do less than we could, this error in judgment has an effect on our self-confidence. “Repeated every day, we soon find ourselves not only doingless than we should, but also beingless than we could. The accumulative effect of this error in judgment can be devastating.”
Fortunately, it is easy to reverse the process. Any day we choose we can develop a new discipline of doingrather than neglecting. Every time we choose action over ease or labor over rest, we develop an increasing level of self-worth, self-respect and self-confidence. In the final analysis, it is how we feelabout ourselves that provides the greatest reward from any activity. “It is not what we getthat makes us valuable; it is what we becomein the process of doingthat brings value into our lives. It is activity that converts human dreams into human reality, and that conversion from ideainto actualitygives us a personal value that can come from no other source.”
Everything has its price and everything has its pain, but the price and the pain become easy when the promise becomes strong. For the meansto be filled by intense activity, we must be obsessed by the ends — by the promise of the future. The ends will not merely “justify” the means; the inspiration we get from seeingthe ends clearly in our minds will enable us to producethe means.
THE RATIO OF ACTIVITY TO REST
Life cannot be a process of all work and no rest. It is important to set aside sufficient time to regain our strength. The key is to develop a reasonable ratio of rest to activity.
The Bible offers this philosophy about the ratio of labor to rest: six days of labor and one day of rest. For some this may seem somewhat heavy on the labor side. In fact, there is a new chorus of voices in the “digitized global economy” who are at odds even with our currentratio of five days labor and two days rest. They would have us cut back even further on the labor side and increase the rest period to at least threedays.
Each of us must select the ratio that best reflects the reward we seek remembering that with diminished labor comes diminished rewards. If we rest too long, the weeds will surely take over the garden. The erosion of our values begins immediately whenever we are at rest. That is why we must make rest a necessity, not an objective. “Rest should only be a necessary pause in the process of preparing for an assault on the next objective and the next discipline. The punishment for excessive rest is mediocrity.”
SEEKING SHORT-CUTS TO SUCCESS
Some of our friends would have us believe that positive affirmation is more important than activity. Rather than doing something constructive to change our lives they would have us repeating various slogans to ourselves that affirm that all is well, such as “Every day and in every way, I am getting better and better.” We must remember that disciplineis a requirement for progress, and that rehashing affirmations withoutdiscipline is the beginning of delusion.
There is nothing wrong with affirmations provided we remember two important rules. First, we should never allow an affirmation to replace action. Feelingbetter is no substitute for doingbetter. And second, whatever we affirm must be the truth.
If the truth of our circumstances is that we are broke, then the best affirmation would be to say, “I am broke.” That would start the thinking process. Spoken with conviction, these words would drive any reasonably prudent person from ease into action.
If those whose lives are spinning out of control would confront the harsh reality of the truth, and then discipline themselves to expressthat truth rather than disguising it in false and misleading pronouncements, positive change would inevitably result.
Realityis always the best beginning. Within reality is the possibility of our own personal miracle. The power of faithstarts with reality. “If we can bring ourselves to state the truth about ourselves and our circumstances, then the truth willset us free. Once we finally understand and accept the truth, the promise of the future is then freed from the shackles of deception, which held it in bondage.”
Sooner or later we must stop blaming the government, the pay schedule, the banks, the taxes, our neighbors, the boss, company policy, high prices, our co-workers, our past, our parents, the traffic or the weather for our failure to capture our share of the joy that comes from progress. Once we come to understand how we reallygot to be where and how we are — that the subtletiesof our repeated and accumulated errors are responsible — then the embarrassment of thatfinal truth and our willingness to admit it will start the process of going from “rags to riches.”
BY CAPT SAM ADDAIH (RTD)