My friend Kevin is one of the smartest people I know, hands down. Nobody even comes close.
I went to a pretty good, highly ranked university in California. In my close circle of friends, Kevin outshone everybody else. It’s as if he can figure out complicated math equations at the back of his head.
In fact, one time, we were talking about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle while eating pizza. There I was, completely stumped about this theory, and my friend Kevin broke it down in between bites of a slice pizza. That’s how brilliant he was and still is.
Kevin was so sharp that he only needed to show up in class once, and that is to take roll so that the professor doesn’t drop him on the first day, and he’d refuse to go to the class ever again. When exam time rolls around, you can count on Kevin to get at least an A. He did this like clockwork.
In fact, in many cases, he got awards and honors and he didn’t even have to show up for the lectures.
I remember laughing when he asked me for any notes that I had for a class he completely ditched. I was laughing because I thought that he was just wasting his time. How can this guy ever pass, much less get an A, when he didn’t even bother to show up?
Boy, was I surprised when the guy got better grades than I did. And he didn’t cheat. That’s how talented Kevin was and still is.
But Kevin, just like most people, has a weakness. We all have our own peculiar and particular shortcomings. It comes with the territory. Kevin is no exception.
His problem was self-discipline. He had a Ferrari engine, but he did not want to drive it in a disciplined, methodical, and systematic way.
Now, he is twice divorced, living in an apartment whose rent he could barely afford, and constantly drinking his problems away.
When I think about the life of my friend Kevin, I not only focus on the missed opportunities for career advancement and accomplishments that he is otherwise capable of achieving, I also think about the rest of us. I think about how we missed out because he did not get his act together to fully unlock his potential so the rest of society could benefit from his genius.
Kevin could have been the next dot-com billionaire. He could have been the next Web 2.0 genius that revolutionized technology. But there he is, in the San Francisco Bay Area, struggling to get by on what essentially is a minimum wage.
What’s going on? How can somebody with so much potential end up with so little?
It turns out that self-discipline is not a neat little trait that we can choose to have. It is THE trait for ultimate success. Without self-discipline, everything else falls apart.
You may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, and that’s okay. As long as you are self-disciplined enough to figure out what you need to learn so you can achieve a little bit more tomorrow, eventually, you’ll get there.
Self-discipline is crucial because there are so many distractions trying to divert our attention from what’s important and what is truly worthy.
You have to understand that life is full of rewards. But the problem is, the biggest rewards that life has to offer are only attained through a long, sustained period of focused effort.
Discipline is crucial for everything in our lives.
You can achieve this state, but the price is high and the journey is long. Are you willing to take that journey?