Success Attributes – Self-Control

My wife and I raised four children (now adults) and now we have four grandchildren all under the age of 3. These experiences have shown us clearly that when it comes to little children, the world does quite literally revolve around them. Infants make their needs known and we appropriately step in and meet those needs again and again. As the first 2 – 3 years of life proceed, toddlers begin to make not just their needs known, but often quite emphatically make their preferences, wants, and desires obvious to anyone within ear shot.

Through my life experience & study, I have selected 10 attributes that I believe are key for living successfully. I am not defining success for you, other than to indicate it involves being healthy physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Your goals, dreams and every day rhythms are yours, and increasingly exhibiting these 10 attributes will ensure you successfully live them.

Merriam-Webster online defines Self-Control as “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires”. In a blog entry from November 17, 2021 (titled Self-Discipline & Self-Control) I defined these two terms as follows:

Self-Discipline: the ability to make oneself do the right thing.

Self-Control: the ability to keep oneself from doing the wrong thing.

I contend in that blog post that self-discipline is something that you can exhibit if only you will. Not always easy and sometimes an up and down journey, but you can develop good habits with repetition. But self-control is an oxymoron because we need help to cultivate it. Take, for example, the afore-mentioned toddlers. Parents do not allow them to continue demanding their way unchecked. Rather, they step in and help the child learn to exercise restraint.

Successful people remain on this journey to self-control throughout their lives. Restraint is an absolute requirement for building good relationships. Restraint must be exercised before we can successfully complete an assignment or project. Self-control is required before we can exhibit self-discipline. So, since we need help to cultivate self-control, where do we find this help?

Mentor: find someone who is ahead of you in whatever area of life you want to focus on. Allow their experience to inform your own decision making.

Trusted partner: when you struggle with the ability to keep from doing the wrong thing, find an accountability partner with whom you can be honest. Allow them to ask you the tough questions.

Coach: like a mentor, but someone with more general life experience across many aspects. Again, allow their experience (and the wisdom that comes from their own successes and missteps) to inform how you navigate the various phases of life.

Counselor: when your struggle is a bit more intense, it may be necessary to seek out professional counseling. There is absolutely no shame in this. In fact, quite the opposite. The strength to seek out help when needed is an admirable quality of successful people.

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