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Key Ideas & 2 Great Diagrams for Greater Self-Discipline & Realistic Success

8 August 2011 No Comment

african american business people planning

I was with a good friend yesterday and drew a few diagrams for her about progress and success (how it really works and the different approaches you can take to it). Bear with my terrible penmanship and take a quick look:

Diagram 1: Eastern vs. Western Approaches to Success

This first diagram explains that we can take either a Western or an Eastern approach towards our progress. We can choose to focus on our goals with a mindset that’s predominant in American and European societies, or with another more predominant in East-Asian and indigenous culture.

diagram about self-discipline

“The western way is REWARDS-oriented, because in the western world you’re more likely to find people starting businesses and careers primarily for money, prestige and material gain.” I said.

“But the eastern way is PROCESS-oriented, because in the eastern world you’re more likely to find craftsmen and communal practices primarily meant for long-term health, spiritual grounding and mastery of a skill for its own sake (such as a martial art).”

“What’s interesting though,” I continued, “is that the eastern orientation is far more conducive to self-discipline, especially over the long term, whereas the western orientation (and value system) is really only conducive to stress, frustration, burnout and a LACK of long-term focus and wellbeing.”

If you’re focused only on the rewards you want, you’ll lack the patience to truly stick things out, and even if you do, remember that there are a lot of people who achieve success but still feel empty inside…”

Diagram 2: How Progress REALLY Works

I drew this second diagram to show her the difference between how we THINK progress occurs versus how it actually plays out over time.

diagram about self-discipline

“The top chart points out how we operate under the ILLUSION that because we’re working, we’re supposed to see constant, consistent results (with “time invested” on the X-axis, and “rewards” or “proficiency” on the Y).

The bottom chart points out THE REALITY, where:

african american couple in business together

- we see a little bit of results at first,

- then things STAGNATE (even though we’re still working hard)

- then we may even DIGRESS a little bit, in order to

…finally reach a small burst of growth and success to once again continue the entire cycle.

The main thing I wanted her to get was that success, progress and even life itself is mostly a series of PLATEAUS (with slight rises and declines sporadically in between), not just one linear, constant progression, so you need to let go of that delusion if you plan on taking long-term action towards your goals.

“You’re a really dope person…you’re really smart and I believe in you, it’s just that every time I see you, you’re all over the place and your situation is completely different. So I think this is important for you to understand…”

(I also referenced a great book called Mastery: Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard (an Aikido master himself). Check that out by clicking here.)


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