How does someone get focused?
That’s simple. You just concentrate, and it happens. But, if you explore the reality of what is happening, it is so much more than that. As I dictate this into my phone this morning, I am huffing and puffing up a mountain. Why? Because I need the exercise. But, it is considerably more complicated than that. Sleeping in for extra hour or leisurely engaging with whatever digital distraction causes my artistic mind to wander both sound more inviting than the prospect of getting out in the cold before the sunrise and choosing to walk up a mountain and muse over an aphorism.
So, what creates motivation? Most certainly, survival ranks in the top of most people’s priority list. But, after the basic survival needs in life are met, what drives the rest? Ambition? OK, then what drives ambition? Ambition is most usually motivated by an inner desire for someone to improve their current set of circumstances and people want to improve their circumstances to obviously have (presumably) a better life. Why?
There is a process that was created in the Toyota factory in Japan which is called the Five Whys. They discovered that if they take on any one of their problems in the factory and start with the question why? and whatever answer is achieved from that question, is met with, “yes, but why?” they have found that with any question, if they ask “why?” five levels deep, they almost inevitably get to the root of the problem. While this methodology at first blush sounds like it was created by an indomitable two year old, it is actually an incredibly valuable tool for you to use in any aspect of your life.
Why does someone get focused? Because they want to concentrate. And why do they want to concentrate? Because they want to accomplish something. And why do they want to accomplish something? Because it gives them tremendous satisfaction? And why does it give them tremendous satisfaction? Because the hard work that is put into an accomplishment leaves a person feeling victorious. And why does it leave them feeling victorious? Because they respect themselves and they want to better themselves.
No doubt, you can go even deeper and ask why do they respect themselves and that would lead to an even deeper understanding. But in this very tiny microcosm example, you can see that what Abraham Heschel said was true. Self-respect is the root of discipline. If we did not care about ourselves we would wander freely through life for as long as we stay alive and then we would perish because we were not watching out for ourselves.
Abraham Joshua Heschel was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century.
I can tell from his quotations that he was a tremendously sentient human being. One of the quotes he left that connected with me most was, “ When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.” As you get older, you sadly discover that kindness, genuine kindness, is a very rare commodity and should be treasured when found.
The self-respect that leads to discipline is not in the least bit constricted to the topic of self improvement, sometimes it is just as important in discussions of personal survival. Have you found yourself in a toxic relationship in either your personal, professional or education-oriented pursuits?
A toxic relationship whittles away at one’s tolerance and patience until eventually there is a breaking point. The discipline required to find that breaking point and to act intelligently is mandatory for one to survive. Given that survival is a core motivator, eventually most people, even the ones with weaknesses in their willpower will find some internal mechanism to flip the switch and reverse their course of action. That internal mechanism is self-respect. And loving oneself. Self-respect is unquestionably the cornerstone behind a person leaving someone who subjects them to spousal abuse, a drug addict or any other kind of addict that is able to finally turn the corner and leave the addiction behind them and it is the prime motivation that ensures someone who is living a life that is less than what they wish they were capable of achieving finds the next step towards achieving and realizing that dream.
And how does one find self-respect? That is a subjective variable entirely predicated upon the value system that the person has been raised within and is continuing to live within. I am certain that a white supremacist discovers what they might view as self-respect through an entirely different set of parameters than I. But, even in an entirely different society with entirely different values, I still believe that this aphorism would apply.
Enjoy your Thursday!😊