Publication Date: 27th September 2022
Publisher: Profile Books
Purchase links available here.
I am delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Discipline is Destiny by Ryan Holiday.
“It is through discipline that not only are all things possible, but also that all things are enhanced. And without it, even the most wonderful things turn to ash or regret. Name someone truly great without self-discipline? Name one calamitous undoing that was not, at least in part, rooted in a lack of self-discipline?
More than talent, life is about temperament. And temperance.”
When starting my working life many years ago, I quickly realised that self-discipline was essential to achieving my goals. I think this is even more important in recent years when we have so many distractions (e.g. mobile phones, emails, panda videos on YouTube!) in our daily lives. It’s all too easy to procrastinate or to find a ‘fun’ distraction, but I’m usually left with that horrible feeling of failure, that I’ve wasted my afternoon/day on some meaningless distraction and failed to achieve my goal for that day. My husband has a sentence stuck to his computer screen – “What’s my next action?” – and I try to remind myself of that question on those days when I’m lacking in motivation or easily distracted. So, when Midas PR offered me the opportunity to read Ryan’s latest book about the power of self-control and discipline I jumped at the chance, hoping I’d find some tips to maintaining that self-discipline.
The inscription on the Oracle of Delphi says: ‘Nothing in excess.’ C.S. Lewis described temperance as going to the ‘right length but no further.’ Easy to say, hard to practice – and if it was tough in 300 BC, or in the 1940s, it feels all but impossible today. Yet it’s the most empowering and important virtue any of us can learn.
Without self-discipline, all our plans fall apart. Here, Ryan Holiday shows how to cultivate willpower, moderation and self-control in our lives. From Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius, to Toni Morrison and Queen Elizabeth II, he illuminates the great exemplars of its practice and what we can learn from them. Moderation is not about abstinence: it is about self-respect, focus and balance. Without it, even the most positive traits become vices. But with it, happiness and success are assured: the key is not more but finding the right amount.
I was not familiar with the author or his work before being invited to take part in this blog tour. I’m also a fairly new reader to ‘self-help’ and philosophy books. This was therefore a very interesting reading experience for me.
Ryan cleverly makes philosophical ideas accessible to the reader through anecdotes about well-known persons, such as Hercules (him of the Greek myths), Eisenhower, Lou Gehrig and Winston Churchill. He introduces the reader to The Four Virtues – Courage, Temperance, Justice and Wisdom. Also known as the ‘Cardinal Virtues’, these four ideals are valued by both religion(s) and philosophy. This book looks specifically at that second virtue, Temperance (also referred to as self-control, moderation, composure, balance).
The book is split into three parts:
Part 1: The Exterior (the body) – this section focuses largely on physical discipline, such as keeping a tidy desk, showing up (even when you don’t want to) and getting enough sleep. With the tale of Lou Gehrig, we are taught that the ‘self-discipline’ can be perfectly reachable habits, such as going to bed at a reasonable time or forgoing vices such as smoking. The author is an exponent of the benefit of healthy living. He reminds the reader that “the pleasure of excess is always fleeting” and asks “Has anyone ever drunk or eaten their way to happiness?”.
Part 2: The Inner Domain (the temperament) – this section focuses on inner discipline, such as perfectionism, procrastination and time management. I particularly related to the chapter on prioritisation called ‘Do the Hard Thing First’. This is where I often come unstuck, trying to get some easy tasks out of the way first and the harder (and often more pressing task) being pushed back again and again. The author is absolutely right, “to push it until later, is a loser’s game”!
Part 3: The Magisterial (the soul) – this final section addresses how to deal with others. Cato the Elder said that “I am prepared to forgive everybody’s mistakes, except my own” and the author tells us that the only person we get to be truly hard on is ourselves. We have to forgive and forget, and to give credit to others for trying. We should be helping them to do better, not being intolerant or ungenerous.
The author reminds us that discipline is about demanding the best of ourselves, even when no one is watching. This should be a goal/aim for everybody.
Written in an informal, easy-reading style, the book proves to be an informative and motivational read. Having read it during a recent holiday, I returned to work with a new incentive to practice that self-discipline that will help me to achieve my aims and goals. I now find myself keen to become acquainted with Ryan’s earlier works.
Thanks to Midas PR for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Profile Books for the review copy of Discipline is Destiny.
Ryan Holiday is one of the world’s bestselling living philosophers. His books, including The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, The Daily Stoic, and the # 1 New York Times bestseller Stillness Is the Key, appear in more than 40 languages and have sold more than 4 million copies. Together, they’ve spent over 300 weeks on the bestseller lists. He lives outside Austin with his wife and two boys…and a small herd of cows and donkeys and goats. His bookstore, The Painted Porch, sits on historic Main St in Bastrop, Texas.