In his book, The Road Less Traveled, M Scott Peck addresses four personal disciplines; 1) the discipline of delaying gratification, 2) the discipline of accepting responsibility for our decisions, 3) our discipline of being dedicated to the truth, and 4) the discipline of prioritizing our lives. These disciplines are directed by our intellect.
There has to be a conscious intellectual decision to delay gratification. There has to be an intellectual determination to accept personal responsibility for each and every decision. There has to be an intellectual commitment to the truth in all situations. There has to be an intellectual prioritization of our lives to achieve success.
Failing these disciplines, all actions taken to achieve your goals and get results will fall short of the mark. In my book Planned Excellence I write of three absolutes in life: constraints exist, details matter, and life happens (buy a copy of Planned Excellence at http://crossbooks.com). It is in the details where you find the disciplines.
This is the second quadrant that is addressed in The Four-Quadrant Coaching™ model. After working through the exercises to develop your goals and strategies, you have to process those goals and strategies through the filter of your intellect. Emotional responses to the goals we set and the strategies we use should not drive our decisions on achievement.
Asking yourself the following four questions will engage your intellect and produce more successful outcomes.
The first question is: “Is this a need or a want?” This question seems to be such a basic one, but you would be surprised by how many people fail to ask it. Whatever the psychology is behind not asking this question, to fail to ask it will result in the inability to delay gratification.
When you can say that you do not need a specific items or service, then you can intellectually justify delaying the purchase. In their 1989 hit, Queen wrote the following lines in the chorus of I want it all; “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.”
This simple chorus exemplifies the undisciplined action of not delaying gratification. The ability to say no to the good now will result in positioning yourself to be able to say yes to the greater later. There are many suggestions made on how to develop this discipline. Some simply suggest waiting a specific period of time before making a purchase. This is commonly referred to as the cooling off period. The philosophy is that after a given length of time, chances are that your level of desire for an item will wane.
I use the philosophy that equates the costs to the length of time it takes me to earn the resources to make the purchase. If I earn $23.00 an hour and my purchase would require me to work seven and a half hours to earn those resources, I am unlikely to make the purchase.
Why? You might ask. When the cost of a purchase runs nearly 20 percent of my weekly check, I have to question my need or want of the item. Keep in mind that a need trumps this delayed gratification by its pure nature. Needs are such items as food, shelter, utilities, transportation, or clothes. Keep in mind that although food in a necessity, you do not have to eat prime rib every night.
Although shelter is a necessity, you do not need to over mortgage your family just to have a house for the neighbors to envy. Although utilities are necessities, you do not have to have premier cable or Direct TV. Although transportation is a necessity, you do not have to drive the most expensive vehicle or even a new vehicle. I think you get the point.
Providing for a need is an intellectual exercise. Meet the need and delay the want. That is the process of delaying gratification.
The second question you should ask yourself is: “Do I accept the responsibility of my decisions in my current situation?” Even before you leave the safety of your high school years, you begin the process of assuming responsibility for your decisions.
When opportunity presents itself, you have the personal responsibility for your decision to capitalize on that opportunity or to allow it to pass. It is one thing to not have an opportunity such as the opportunity to attend college. It is another thing to have the opportunity and decide not to capitalize on it. I did not have the opportunity out of high school to go to college. I did, however, have the opportunity while in the military to save the necessary resources to go to college. However, I decided not to capitalize on that opportunity.
The initial lack of opportunity was not my responsibility, while the latter experience was. Although I lacked opportunity at 18 years of age, failing to attend college became my responsibility when I had opportunity and failed to accept it.
The key is this; accepting responsibility for your decisions requires intellectual engagement. When you are developing goals and objectives, you must be intellectually engaged in the execution process. To set the goal and fail to accept the responsibility for your decisions will lead to an inability to achieve the goal. That becomes the focus of The Four-Quadrant Coaching™ model. It’s about accountability.
First, delay instant gratification by intellectually considering needs over desires. Second, accept responsibility for your decisions in the developing and achievement of your goals. If you fail to achieve your goals, you must look towards your decisions to determine the drivers of that failure. Using the circumstances and situations of life as a reason for not being intellectually engaged is not acceptable.
The third question you should ask is: “Do I have a solid foundation for what is true?” This question must be asked with intellectual honesty. A solid foundation of truth is not the world as you see it. It cannot be measured by that which comes from within you. That would be a subjective truth, and subjective truths do not have a solid foundation.
Truth is an intellectual exercise that requires wise counsel and an immense amount of impassioned seeking. The concept is to determine the truth about the specific situation that demands you to make a decision.
In the story of the trial of Jesus Christ, as he stands before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, there was an exchange about the charges made by the Jews. In the exchange, Pilate asks Jesus if he was in fact a king. Pilate was faced with making a decision to release Jesus or condemn him to death.
As the story goes, Jesus answered him by saying, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.”
Then Pilate answers Jesus by asking the following question: “What is truth?”
Ultimately, that is the question that needs to be answered here. Do I have a solid foundation of what is true? This is an awesome intellectual struggle because when you are faced with making decisions about accelerating your life to achieve your goals, your decisions will have either a positive or negative result.
So before you make critical decisions always ask, “What is the truth about this situation?”
“Do I have enough knowledge about the dynamics of the situation to make a wise decision that will result in a positive impact on my life and the lives of others?
The final question that you should ask is: “Do I have the required knowledge and resources to correctly prioritize the actions of my life?”
When you are constructing a house you do not build the roof before you lay the foundation. There is a natural priority to achievement. You cannot determine the actions required to achieve a goal without first determining your target and time frame. Beyond that you will need to identify the necessary steps to achieving your goals and get the results you desire.
This issue of prioritizing your life centers on having the correct knowledge and resources. When you lack either or both, you will take actions that do not fall in a logical, progressive order. This will cause you to fail to achieve your goals and get the results you desire. If your ultimate goal is to build wealth, there is a logical, progressive order to the steps required to achieve your goal.
Since debt is a wealth killer, eliminating debt from your budget is a necessary step. You must first stop inflating your income through the use of debt. To do that, you must reduce the outflow of your financial resources. Thus, you must reduce your spending on items that fall outside of the basic necessities of life: food, shelter, utilities, transportation, and clothes.
It is good to start with your desired future state and work backwards from there. Simply ask the questions in reverse order. “If I want to build wealth, what one accomplishment would guarantee success?”
Answer: greater financial resources.
“How do I generate greater financial resources?”
Answer: Increase earnings, eliminate debt or reduce spending, or some combination of the three.
Focusing on eliminating debt, “How do I eliminate debt?”
Answer: Two steps; pay off existing debt by executing a debt reduction plan and stop using debt as a supplemental source of income.
Each question eventually sharpens your focus and assists you in getting to the point where you have the knowledge and resources to accomplish the goals you have identified. Then, as you intellectually engage in the process of success, your knowledge and resources grow. Each success breeds more success; each achievement breeds greater achievement. However, it starts with actively executing these four disciplines in your life.
These disciplines, of delaying gratification, of accepting responsibility for our decisions, of being dedicated to the truth, and of prioritizing your life, are intellectual pursuits. The Four-Quadrant Coaching™ model aggressively challenges the intellectual quadrant. Emotions are real, but they are poor decision makers.
Decisions require intellectual engagement. If you are contemplating the value of The Four-Quadrant Coaching™ model and how it might help you accelerate your life to achieve your goals and get results, visit http://kenrupert,com to learn more. You might also want to pick up a copy of Planned Excellence – How to Achieve Greatness through Strategic Planning. A link can be found on my website.