“You could read dozens of biographies of the excellent and the accomplished. You could devote yourself to the careful study of the self-help literature. You could dedicate yourself to learning every hack, trick, tactic, and strategy out there for saving time and doing more and achieving.
And you would find only one common thread in all of that study. Only one thing that binds the good and the great and the successful: self-mastery. Great men and women master themselves. Period.
Beyond all else—beyond genetics, and talent, and luck, and timing—there is self-discipline and self-control. Ironically, it is this very tight adherence to self-discipline that gives the best among us freedom. That’s what Epictetus means when he says: “No person is free who is not master of themselves.” Self-discipline is the starting point of freedom.
That’s why there are remarkable stories that emerge out of prisons. Even in those instances, when a man’s freedom has been taken away from him by the state, great men and women can improve themselves, build their lives, get an education, and, potentially, get out and become productive citizens.
So what’s stopping you? What is keeping you from doing the right thing and holding fast to the promises you make to yourself?”
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