The Two Most Important Values To Live By

The world has become restless. Look around and you will see what I am talking about. I dread stepping out of my house in the evenings because even a 10-minute drive can easily cost me a couple of hours. In India, (and I can only speak for Mumbai and Pune,) people driving on the streets are experts in the real-life application of the Pythagorean Theorem, except that each driver draws his or her own imaginary triangle, and hence derive their own shortest diagonal line to turn left or right. A slight traffic block can easily turn a single-lane service road into a 5-lane highway, except that no one’s really moving ahead. You go to a grocery store and you will find a family member holding the queue at the checkout counter while the other members are happily shopping around in the aisles. At schools, you will find parents nudging their children to break queues and move ahead. 

Patience and discipline are terms that everybody understands, yet very few actually appreciate them, while just about a couple would actually embody them as core values. Take a moment to reflect and see if you embody discipline and patience in your life and daily actions. 

In a frenzied and rushed effort to accomplish our societal obligations and achieve the goals written by our cultural and social constructs, we forget to embody the two most crucial virtues that help us channel our energies into becoming magnanimous human beings. Osho once said, “The ultimate mysteries are opened only to those who have immense patience and discipline.” 

You see things that come your way cannot be controlled. However, by embodying discipline and patience we can certainly influence how we react by demonstrating the right attitude. 

I look at big organizations around the world, and I see them incorporate values such as trust, accountability, integrity, leadership, innovation, improvement, passion, quality, teamwork, and simplicity into shaping their corporate cultures. I am still to see a business that puts discipline and patience at the forefront of everything else. 

In the world of financial investing and trading, most gurus constantly emphasize the importance of having discipline and patience to be more effective and successful. Charlie Munger once said, “It’s waiting that helps you as an investor, and a lot of people just can’t stand to wait.”

In life, we set goals, yet we don’t pursue them with patience and discipline. Bill Gates said in an interview, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year, and underestimate what they can do in three or five years.” Without patience and discipline, we invariably set ourselves up for failure and disappointment. 

In my opinion, if there are two values that every human being should stand by, they should be discipline and patience. All other values will simply not stand one’s ground and will wither away in the face of growing opposition or challenges. Discipline and patience teach us to delay gratification and hold a long(er) range perspective towards life. It eventually convinces us that there is more than enough time to accomplish everything that we ever desire to achieve. It also convinces us to believe that there is more than enough for everyone and that you don’t have to rush in to grab your piece of the pie, rather see the pie big enough to satisfy everyone. It forces us to think differently and set our goals from a space of inner clarity and alignment. 

Next time someone asks you to think about your values, start here. Start with discipline and patience, and see how you can slowly embody these virtues into your life. Teach the principles of discipline and patience to your children, so that the next generation will stand up wearing these values on their sleeves and work with society effectively and positively. 

Try doing any of these today and see how it feels,

  1. Wait for your turn to get into the elevator. If it’s 60% occupied, wait for the next carriage to arrive.
  2. Avoid using the phrase “I have only 2 items” at the checkout counter to jump queues.
  3. If you see the traffic lights turning red, try not to speed up. 
  4. Stop completely at a traffic light, without honking or changing lanes. 
  5. If there is a traffic jam, stick to your lane. Try not to weave in and out of the lanes to get ahead.
  6. Model any self-discipline behavior at home.

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