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Success and Self-control

Many people don’t know this, but self-control and success go hand in hand. One is a cause, and the other is an effect. But why? Why does self-control typically lead to success?

Well, that’s what we aim to convey to you in this article. In fact, we aim to provide you with a handful of researched and science backed reasons as to why self-control and success belong in the same sentence. But, before we do that, we must first define what self-control and success are separately.

As such, the definition of self-control is essentially your ability to adjust and manage your responses in order to avoid undesirable behaviors or results, increase desirable behaviors or results, and achieve long-term aims. What this basically means, is that self-control is related to our ability to resist temptations, and exercise control over our emotions and actions.

And the definition of success is best expressed in the following way; success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or aim. Now, some people may think success means “making it”, becoming a millionaire, retiring early, or becoming the head honcho in your organizations’ hierarchy. And while they would be correct, it would only be partially. And the reason for this, is because these are merely aspects of success, which typically only have meaning relative to the pursuer. So, the best answer for what success is, is our progressive actualization of our goals, and of course the final realization of our goal.

Self-Control is The Key to Success

Self Control and Success

Success Research

With that being said, here’s what we’ve discovered about the relationship between success and self-control. After conducting research and chronicling the success stories of some of the the most successful and richest people in modern times, we’ve found that one of the key traits they all had amongst themselves was the ability to force themselves to take action on the activities that would lead them closer and closer to their intended aims over time. In other words, what we found was that they all had, heightened levels of self imposed disciplined and control over themselves.[1]

Now, self-discipline and self-control are not 100% the same thing, but they are very much related. Self-discipline is forcing ourselves do to what we set out to do. Whereas self-control is our ability to choose to act or not act on certain impulses that we have. Impulses like staying up later than we should, or sleeping in late, relaxing and taking more time off from productive activity than is necessary, or eating more than our diet recommends.

Similarly, having self-control is our ability to control how we feel, and our ability to choose to take action despite those feelings. And so, self-discipline and self-control, while not exactly the same, are very much related. So much so, that you can’t have one with out the other.

Self Discipline and Success

Self-Control Study

One of the best historical samples that leans on science to show how self-control lends to a person’s ability to succeed, was conducted in 1972. It was a self-control study conducted on a handful of children using marshmallows. [2] The children were placed in a room, and given the option to have one marshmallow now, or refrain from eating the tasty treat that was placed in front of them by waiting 15 minutes while the researcher was gone, with the promise of getting a second marshmallow when he got back.

Now, the most important aspect of this research was directly related to the follow up studies, which assessed the outcomes of the children that participated in the famed marshmallow study.[3] And the outcomes clearly showed, that the children from the initial study that displayed the most self-control, i.e. (the children who abstained from eating marshmallow) would years later, show greater signs of achievement, both in school, socially, and in life. [4]

Self-control Study

Historical Success Study

Another great example that showcases how self-control and success go hand in hand comes from a historical success study that was initiated by one of the richest men in modern history. The man who kickstarted this study was a famous steel magnate named Andrew Carnegie who accumulated much of his wealth in the early 20th century. And one of his greatest legacies was the commissioning of a man named Napoleon Hill to research and interview the most successful people across the country. And that’s exactly what Napoleon Hill did.

The results of Napoleon Hill’s decades long research culminated into a handful of books that contained the so called key to success. And it’s a key to success that millions of people still rely on to this day.

Napoleon Hill’s ultimate conclusion on what the master key to riches and success were, boiled down to one having the self-control and self-discipline necessary to take full and complete possession of their own minds.[5] In short, self-discipline, self-control and success go hand in hand.

Self-Control and Success Graph

Why Discipline and Self-Control Lead To Success

Okay, so we have shown that there is a clear link between self-control and success. But, We are sure you are curious why this is the case. So, here is a simple answer. Self-discipline and self-control are the paths to success for the same reason, that the plant you water grows and the one you neglect dies.

Goals, like plants, require a certain level of continuous nourishment in the form of specific decisions, behaviors, and actions that must be delivered on in order for them to be actualized.

No matter what your goal is, or what object of success you are chasing, specific nourishing requirements for each goal. Some goals require massive amounts of commitment and effort, whereas smaller goals require less.

And more often than not, when people set out to achieve a specific level of success, they don’t calculate for the massive amounts of self-discipline and self-control that will be required for them to press on when times get tough, or when they don’t feel like working. So as time goes on, those people who are able to continually move forward on their goals with no loss of enthusiasm and through sheer self-discipline and self-control, eventually reach their aim.

Related: How to Improve Self-Control

Final Thoughts on Self-Control and Success

Is self-control important to success?

Well, here are our final thoughts on self-control and success which we hope answers the question. We have observed and discovered that people with high levels of self-control are generally better at managing their time, they stick to productive activities longer, and they tend to take action more consistently then those with lower levels of self-control. As such, the self-controlled person will find it easier to achieve more and more success.

Self control is the key to success

With that being said, we’ve explained why self-discipline and self-control almost always leads to success. As such, we hope you’ve gained some value from this post. But most importantly, we hope it has inspired you to learn how you can improve your own levels of self-control so you can start succeeding at will.

Till next time,


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