by Kenneth Boa

Leadership Qualities: Self-Discipline
Dr. Kenneth Boa

Mischa Elman, one of the greatest violinists of the twentieth century, was walking through the streets of New York City one afternoon when a tourist approached him. "Excuse me, sir," the stranger began, "could you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?" Elman sighed deeply and replied, "Practice, practice, practice." (1)

Gary Player, one of the most successful international golfers of all time, lost count of how many times someone said to him, "I'd give anything if I could hit a golf ball like you." After one particularly grueling day on the links, Player couldn't resist correcting the person, "No, you wouldn't. You'd give anything to hit a golf ball like me, if it were easy." Player then listed the things one would have to do in order to achieve his level of play: "You've got to get up at five o'clock in the morning, go out and hit a thousand golf balls, walk up to the club house to put a bandage on your hand where it started bleeding, then go and hit another thousand golf balls. That's what it takes to hit a golf ball like me." (2)

Another professional golfer, Chi Chi Rodriguez, put it this way. He said, "Preparation through steady practice is the only honest avenue to achieving your potential." Octavia Butler, in an essay for aspiring writers, says, "First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you, whether you're inspired or not... Habit is persistence in practice." (3)

Whether in the concert hall, the playing field or the classroom, the steadiness of practice is crucial for realized potential. It is an even more critical issue when it comes to living the spiritual life. We achieve great things by training ourselves. Through proper training, we form proper habits; we can intentionally choose those habits that are desirable for the formation of character. Habits and practice seem obvious, ordinary, pedestrian; there aren't many books that deal with this pos ...

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