Block 6, Self-Control - Bottom of the Ninth #119

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Bottom of the 9th - Self-Control

Self-Control - Block 6, John Wooden's Pyramid of Success by Keith Wahl

The next row of blocks in the Pyramid of Success begins with Self-Control. Wooden says the following about Self-Control:

Self-control is the ability to discipline ourselves and keep our emotions under control. To become our best, good judgment and common sense are essential. No matter the task - whether physical or mental - if our emotions take over, we're not going to execute near our personal level of competency, because both judgment and common sense will be impaired. When our emotions dominate our actions, we make mistakes.

People have been studying the ability for people to govern themselves and their actions for many years. One of the most famous experiments around Self-Control occurred in the 1960s at the Bing Nursery School on the campus of Stanford University. Many people refer to this experiment simply as "the marshmallow test."

A child was asked to sit down in the chair and pick a treat from a tray of marshmallows, cookies, and pretzel sticks. If the child chose the marshmallow, the researcher would then make the child an offer: the child could either eat one marshmallow right away or, if the child was willing to wait while the researcher stepped out for a few minutes, the child could have two marshmallows when the researcher returned. The researcher said that if the child rang a bell on the desk while the researcher was away the researcher would come running back, and the child could eat one marshmallow but would forfeit the second. Then the researcher left the room.

Initially, the experiment was designed to examine self-control and the mental processes behind that ability, Walter Mischel, the professor in charge of the experiment, started to become more curious about the long-term outcomes for the children involved in the experiment. Would those who were able to delay gratification be more successful than those who surrendered to the task quickly?

Here is a paragraph outlining the result from "Don't - The Secret of Self-Control" by Jonah Lehrer:

"Once Mischel began analyzing the results, he noticed that low delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds."

It probably surprises no one that delayed gratification leads to success in life. We send our kids to a school that focuses on the development of habits because my wife and I believe this level of character building is vital to the development of the person (Ambleside School). But if there is anything that I know about Self-Control, it comes from Paul's letter to the Galatians:

Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

As a fruit of the Holy Spirit, Self-Control is something of a misnomer. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, a product of the Spirit indwelling within us. This again draws us back to the need for a Savior in Jesus Christ - we can do nothing of our own fleshly strength in this life. Let us seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to draw Self-Control in our lives for the betterment of ourselves and for the Kingdom of Christ.

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