By Donald Broughton
As chief market strategist, managing director and senior transportation analyst for Avondale Partners, Donald is a frequent guest on CNBC and Fox. He has been recognized as a top stock picker by “The Wall Street Journal,”“Fortune,”“Zacks” and “StarMine.”
The axiom “Control yourself, and you control the world” isn’t advocating megalomania, but rather, the realization that your ability to control events and the reactions of others is extremely limited. But the ability to control yourself, your thoughts, your words, and your actions IS under your control.
As French writer Michel de Montaigne pointed out, “Not being able to govern events, I govern myself.” However, the more disciplined you are and the more disciplined you become in controlling yourself, the greater the influence you will exercise over the world.
First, that control and influence comes in your immediate circle of and family friends. Second, that control and influence begins to extend to your community and the friends of your family, and friends of your friends. Third, if practiced long enough and diligently enough, that control and influence can extend around the world and through time long after your mortal body fails you, making it the ultimate testament to “mind over body”as a sign of a life well lived. The new age philosopher Sri Chinmoy said, “I am very happy because I have conquered myself and not the world. I am very happy because I have loved the world and not myself.” The great irony of his statement is that only if you truly conquer yourself can the world truly love you, and only if you truly love yourself and the life you have created can you fully love the world. We live in a time in which we champion “self-esteem.”
I find the notion that we should always “feel good” or “be happy,” as terribly misguided. Even worse is the notion that we should always make our children “feel good” or “be happy.”“We can’t do that because it might damage their self-esteem” is one of the most dangerous pieces of “psycho-babble” ever uttered. Real, lasting positive self-esteem doesn’t come from people paying attention to you, liking you or admiring you. Real, lasting self-esteem comes from living a life of self-control. If you are successful at controlling your bad impulses; if in a regular self-disciplined manner you follow through and complete the work, the tasks and chores of the day, you will feel good about yourself and what you’ve accomplished. Students don’t make good grades because they have high self-esteem; students have high self-esteem because they make good grades. People who carefully watch what they eat and exercise regularly don’t do so because they have high self-esteem; they have high self-esteem because the carefully watch what they eat and exercise regularly. To take this point to the ridiculous level, I’m not a successful financial analyst and investor because I drive a Mercedes and live in Ladue. It’s the other way around. And, I’ll admit it, my self-esteem enjoys driving a nice car and living in a nice house.
In our modern world we see countless examples of people who are “liked” or “admired” or “closely followed” for no reason that is reflective of the life of self-discipline that they have lived. They know all that attention is undeserved or unwarranted, and now they are bundles of unhappy neurotic anxiety and low self-esteem. The Kardashians are this era’s poster children for this phenomena. As the poet Criss Jami opined, “If the entire world sought to make itself worthy of happiness rather than make itself happy, then the entire world would be happy.”So, grow your personal wealth and the wealth of those around you by taking control of yourself. Resist the temptation to worry or doubt in all matters of your life. Consciously decide to think of ways to make your life better. Write it down and hold yourself accountable. Set basic goals in all matters – your health, your relationships, your spirituality, your work, your finances, and your hobbies. Regularly, consistently, do or act – eat more veggies, exercise every day, reach out to an old friend. Tell everyone you love that you love them, commit an act of random kindness, pray, read something spiritual, teach yourself a new skill. Mentor a colleague, save a little more, spend a little less, learn a little more about another way to invest. Meet others who share your hobby, meet one of the best at your hobby, get a hobby other than Facebook, TV, or video games.
Take control of your life through small steps of self-discipline. Through thought, word and deed become who you were created to be. Control yourself and you control the world.