a man climbing across a rope

It’s all lies.

Each and every day we are told that to be successful we need to be richer, thinner, sexier, or smarter.

But those are all lies.

Sure they might have a ring of truth, but they aren’t the real thing. For instance, having riches themselves is not success. It can be a sign of success. It might show that someone has self-control, drive, focus, and self-mastery. But having riches does not mean you are successful.

But being rich is not a form of success. There are too many people who are rich who have simply failed at life.

So why do we often think of success as having money, or fame, or power? Perhaps because they are things that are easy to count. It’s easy to count the numbers in a bank account, or the number of email subscribers in a list, or the weight on a scale.

But this is not success.

All these are secondary results from real success.

For instance, success isn’t being thinner. Real success is learning to take care of your body and having a lifestyle of movement and health.

A higher GPA doesn’t mean success. True success is learning how to focus, to hone your ability to learn and acquire new knowledge.

And being rich doesn’t mean success. Real success is mastering the ability set goals, persevere, and keep going.

Which is interesting.

All of these traits: riches, intelligence, temperance, and health, are all the result of one common virtue: Self Mastery.

Real success is overcoming common flaws such as procrastination, anger, or fear. Real success is overcoming vices such aimlessness, laziness, dishonesty.

It is fighting the constant battle of self-improvement–and winning. Sure some things take time, but our job is to fight no matter how long it takes.

And this concept is true. All we need to do is to look at some of the world’s brightest scholars, writers, and poets for proof that real success is the mastery of self.


The Scholars

One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

“The first and best victory is to conquer self. To be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and vile.”
-Plato

e who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still
-Lao Tzu

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” (Prov. 16:32.)
- Solomon the Wise

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
― Ernest Hemingway

You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
― Marcus Aurelius

If you conquer yourself, then you conquer the world”
― Paulo Coelho


How to Gain Self Mastery?

So, if self-mastery is the true road to success then how do we get there? The concept is simple to express but hard to do: Simply conquer one vice at a time.

Just pick a vice. Pick just one thing that you struggle with. Pick something that you despise in yourself and that you want to change. Feel free to pick something small or something large, but pick one. And then each and every day simply work on conquering that one thing until you beat it.

For example, say you struggle with obesity. Then make becoming healthy the key focus of your life. Make your whole focus on becoming healthy, and doing the actions that will lead to such. Don’t count the pounds, and don’t look into the mirror, but track the things you can directly control. If you drink 4 sodas a day, write it down and track your actions. Then cut down to 3 a day. Once you’ve mastered that, cut it down to 2 drinks a day. And once you’ve mastered that cut down to 1 a day. And once you’ve mastered that, take a breath, square your shoulders, and give up soda for good.

But why not count the pounds? Because you can’t directly control how many pounds you lose. But you can control how much you drink. So control that. You can control how much you move, so track that. And so you can now set goals to achieve something you have direct control over. And if you hit those goals then you are a success.

If you do it this way you’ll have less stress and more confidence because you’ll be focused on things that you can actually control.

And this is a heartening way to live. It means that anyone can be a success. Even you. True it takes effort. It takes work. But it’s the greatest investment you will ever make.

And aren’t you worth the work?

But what if you fail? What if you stumble? Well follow the advice of James Allen in his fantastic book “As a Man Thinketh”:

“A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the centralizing point of his thoughts. It may take the form of a spiritual ideal, or it may be a worldly object, according to his nature at the time being. But whichever it is, he should steadily focus his thought forces upon the object which he has set before him. He should make this purpose his supreme duty, and should devote himself to its attainment, not allowing his thoughts to wander away into ephemeral fancies, longings, and imaginings. This is the royal road to self-control and true concentration of thought. Even if he fails again and again to accomplish his purpose (as he necessarily must until weakness is overcome), the strength of character gained will be the measure of his true success, and this will form a new starting point for future power and triumph.”

So keep trying. Keep going forward. And one day near or far you will be a better you.

You will be a success.


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-Stephen Godfrey
Founder - Mountain Fresh Media