This is part 1 of a three part series on self-discipline. Check out the others in the series:
Sacrifice and the Altar of Fortune – Part 1
I remember it like it was yesterday.
I was dead tired and the trek seemed endless.
Still I pressed on.
On the way, I came across a shadowy and mysterious figure. He was hooded, short, but he radiated a undeniable strength.
“Greetings young traveler”, he said.
“Hello”, I said in low, dull tone.
“I see you are seeking out Fortune. Is that correct?”, he said.
“Yes, you’re right”, I sternly replied.
He looked up at the sky for a what seemed like an eternity and said: “Yes…I have seen many young men like yourself do the same. Unfortunately, most of them go searching in vain.” His reply didn’t give me any confidence, so I dismissed it as idle chatter.
“Some of them do indeed reach Fortune… but they are unprepared to compensate her. As a result, she does not come to their aid”, he said.
Slightly shaken and greatly intrigued, I inquired by asking: “What do you mean?”
“You will see in time. Continue on”, he dismissively replied. With that, he turned his back upon me and walked away.
My confidence was at an all time high. After this conversation, it ebbed to a sobering level.
The resulting path was more and more trying. Seemingly impassable roads. Dead ends. Cliffs.
After much strain, much struggle, much sacrifice… I managed to get to the coveted shrine. The shrine of Fortune.
The fires of the shrine were burning incredibly bright. An almost supernatural color.
Yet Fortune was nowhere to be found. Then, a sudden chill came upon me. I realized what this was.
This was not only a shrine…but an altar. An altar of sacrifice.
What will you give up?
I have always likened “good luck” or a Fortune to a spirit. This spirit is very fickle. It decides to bless some men and condemn others….for no apparent reason.
What I have noticed however, is that this spirit is very appeased by sacrificial offerings. Some of these offerings (along with a various laundry list) are:
- Instant Gratification/Pleasure
But its favorite offering is time. Fortune knows that time is the only thing we possess lots of but many of us spend it foolishly. So when a mere mortal sacrifices their time, Fortune tends to bless that person.
Sacrifice is a word that is recoiled at in our modern day vernacular…but it’s the only REAL thing that will guarantee success. We all sacrifice something in order to gain something else.
The working man sacrifices a majority of his waking hours for a salary.
The musician sacrifices nights out with friends to trade for greater proficiency in his instrument.
The athlete sacrifices his body on long grueling practice sessions at a shot to attain fame and fortune.
Sacrifice is very closely related to Compensation. In fact, they are like twin sisters peering down at mortals from their heavenly firmament, watching their every move.
Do this… then that happens
A person walks off of a building. What’s the result? Does he sprout wings and fly? Most likely not. He will fall to the ground with a hard splat.
But what if he didn’t know?
It doesn’t matter if he “didn’t know”. Gravity is neutral. Gravity doesn’t care. In fact, gravity is only a mere servant to this supreme law: the law of cause and effect.
Every action has a consequence, no matter how big or small. Walking off of a building is the cause. Slamming into the street below is the effect. It is impossible to separate the two. Without it, we would have chaos.
How is this related to sacrifice?
Sacrifice is the cause. Compensation is the effect.
You must give up in order to get. Theres’s no way around it.
Here’s the cool part though – you will get in proportion to what you give. If not now, then some time down the road.
Let’s say you decided to give up some of your time in order to learn a new skill. You could have spent that time doing many other things but instead you decided that this skill was more important. Well…was it?
“He who would accomplish little need sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much. He who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.” – James Allen, As A Man Thinketh
As a Man Thinketh is one of the greatest pieces ever written. Here’s some important insights from this great work.
How to make the Law of Sacrifice work for you
I call this “the Law of Sacrifice”. It’s something that is true in every case, no matter how small. It’s something to think about whenever you engage in a certain action.
If you want a certain lifestyle, don’t ask if you want the lifestyle. Ask if you want the pain that comes with it.
What do I mean by that?
Let’s say you want to reach a high level in a certain venture. Well, what is involved with that? Usually it’s one of the following
- Slow, steady incremental improvements
- Deliberate practice
- Deep work and mastery
- A heaping helping of self-discipline
This is why I sort of chuckle to myself when people think that people with a ton of money or success have no problems. If anything, they have more. Not only have they sacrificed a ton in sweat equity to reach their platform…but they also have a ton of other things to contend with that other people don’t.If you want a certain lifestyle, don't ask if you want the lifestyle. Ask if you want the pain that… Click To Tweet
Keys to the Law of Sacrifice
If you want to be blessed by the good graces of Fortune, you have to know how to use the Law of Sacrifice to your advantage. Here’s some steps to get started.
1. Are you disciplined?
Self-discipline is the cornerstone of all achievement.
Without self-discipline and self-mastery, nothing is possible. With it, everything is possible.
Self-discipline comes in a variety of forms and is applicable to any situation. But the best description I can give is: “doing what needs to be done, regardless of whether you want to or not”.
People who are truly self-disciplined and self-mastered are rare. They end up using the Law of Sacrifice unintentionally and usually end up achieving great things.
2. No pain, no gain
There’s a reason why this saying is so popular…because it’s so true.
You don’t build the muscle without breaking it down first.
You don’t build the business empire by hanging back and not using any of your own money.
You don’t become a Rhodes scholar without a great depth of knowledge in a certain area, the hours of countless study.
You need to have your skin in this game.
Only you can decide what you’re going to sacrifice in order to attain a certain end.
What will it be? What will you burn upon the altar of Fortune? Is it money? Is it chasing women? Is it friends? Is it playing video games?
Only you can decide. No one else.
3. Focus, focus, focus
Once you have decided on what to sacrifice….don’t take your eyes off the ball.
I repeat: don’t take your eyes off the ball. Focused effort will take you from where you are now to where you want to be.
Think of your attention as the rays of the sun. Scattered, they are relatively harmless. But focused through a magnifying glass, they will burn.
When you have your hands in too many pots, you never finish making a meal. Finish one dish. Them the next, then the next.
4. All in
You need to have an “all in” mentality. This is death ground at its core. Once you’ve sacrifice, you need the courage to “hang in there” until you’re successful. You can’t quit when the going gets tough and things look bad. You can switch, which is different – but don’t quit.
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. – Lance Armstrong
I got the inspiration for this post from Art of Manliness’ Law of Sacrifice article. Brett does a great job on explaining it, but I wanted to put my spin on it.
You just need to ask yourself at the end of the day: what are your dreams worth? Are they enough that you will do what’s needed? Or will you just be another person who just talks and talks without saying anything?
If you want freedom, success, money, whatever have you…you must give up something. You must go without. No one is immune to this principle.
This…takes discipline. Discipline is the only thing that will separate the doers from the talkers. Discipline is the great refiner, the great equalizer. Discipline is what turns boys into men and criminals into refined citizens.