12 November 2006

Discipline, and Talent

Genes vs. the Environment. Websites like Gene Expression and Steve Sailer perform a valuable service by describing research that shows how important genetics and heredity are in the success of individuals and nations. Statistically, intelligence correlates well with success--and intelligence is between 50% and 70% hereditable.

Inherited talent can certainly make the difference between success and mediocrity. But talent without disciplined training can be worse than worthless. A society that lapses into decadent sloth, where hard work is disdained and avoided, is likely to fail eventually.


"The first and best victory is to conquer self."
— Plato
Greek Philosopher

"You can never conquer the mountain. You can only conquer yourself."
— Jim Whittaker

"Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There's plenty of movement, but you never know if it's going to be forward, backwards, or sideways."
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

"It is not enough to have great qualities; We should also have the management of them."
— La Rochefoucauld

"A man without decision of character can never be said to belong to himself . . . . He belongs to whatever can make captive of him."
— John Foster

"It is necessary to try to surpass one's self always: this occupation ought to last as long as life."
— Queen Christina of Sweden

"I think the guys who are really controlling their emotions ... are going to win."
— Tiger Woods

"Let me . . . ; remind you that it is only by working with an energy which is almost superhuman and which looks to uninterested spectators like insanity that we can accomplish anything worth the achievement. Work is the keystone of a perfect life. Work and trust in God."
— Woodrow Wilson

"We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit."
— Aristotle

"Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which his heart is set. This is true of earthly as of heavenly things. Even the man whose object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object; and how much more so he who would realize a strong and well-poised life."
— James Allen

"Nothing is more harmful to the service, than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army superiority over another."
— George Washington

"Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It's a state of mind-you could call it character in action."
— Vince Lombardi

"There are no short cuts to any place worth going."
— Beverly Sills

"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself-and be lenient to everybody else."
— Henry Ward Beecher

"Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
— Mark Twain

"If we don't discipline ourselves, the world will do it for us."
— William Feather

"Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power."
— Lao Tzu

"Never suffer your courage to exert itself in fierceness, your resolution in obstinacy, your wisdom in cunning, nor your patience in sullenness and despair. "
— Charles Palmer

"This quality of self-denial in pursuit of a longer-term goal and, indeed, the willpower to maintain the denial, is excellent training for the boardroom."
— John Viney

"Rule your mind or it will rule you."
— Horace

"Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be."
— Thomas á Kempis

"Leaders aren't born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal."
— Vince Lombardi

"Success is a matter of understanding and religiously practicing specific, simple habits that always lead to success."
— Robert J. Ringer

"It was high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, 'always do what you are afraid to do.'"
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Nobody's a natural. You work hard to get good and then work to get better. It's hard to stay on top."
— Paul Coffey
NHL star

"A successful career will no longer be about promotion. It will be about mastery."
— Michael Hammer

"The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It's your mind you have to convince."
— Vince Lombardi

"The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might and force of habit. He must be quick to break those habits that can break him—and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires."
— J. Paul Getty

Self discipline is the opposite of decadence and sloth. A slothful and decadent society is one that is easy to overcome from within or without. Even the slightest observation shows that socialist and communist societies become decadent--even more decadent than affluent capitalist countries. A society that provides all the amenities to everyone gratis, is a society in danger of breeding sloth into its members.

It is easy for a society to go too far in the opposite direction, as in ancient Sparta, or modern Palestine and Southern Lebanon. Societies bred exclusively for war. These societies will never produce great art or anything else but bloodshed.

Humans have always had to thread the eye of the needle, plot the course between disaster and oblivion. According to history, virtually every society eventually meets with oblivion. Sooner or later.

So, suppose a society learns to breed talent AND self-discipline into its members. Would that be enough to assure the durability of that society and its underlying civilisation? Well, luck plays a part, as does the wisdom of experience in understanding where to apply all that talent and discipline.

Wisdom is not what most people think it is. More later.

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