You don’t control the outcomes of your life.
You don’t control how other people will respond to you.
You don’t control your health.
You don’t control how much money you make.
Principles control these things.
Said Dr. Stephen R. Covey, “We control our actions, but the consequences that flow from those actions are controlled by principles.”
If you consistently put unhealthy foods in your body, your body will become unhealthy. Your body is a natural system governed by principles.
If you don’t pay the price to develop your mind with consistent learning, your mind will become dull and unclear. Your mind is a natural system governed by principles.
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey defines a principle as “a natural law like gravity. It’s different than a value. Values are subjective; principles are objective. Gravity… if you drop something, gravity controls.”
Most people cram for tests while in college. But can you cram if you’re a farmer? Can you forget to plant in the spring, slack off all summer, and then work hard during the fall?
Of course not. A farm is a natural system governed by principles.
So are you.
The law of the harvest is always in effect. What you plant, you must harvest. Furthermore, what you plant consistently overtime eventually yields a compounded or exponential harvest.
You often don’t experience the consequences of your actions immediately, which can be deceiving. If you smoked one cigarette, you probably wouldn’t get cancer. If you spent $10 on coffee just one day, it probably wouldn’t affect your financial life. However, over time, these habits have drastic outcomes. It turns out, $10 daily over 50 years at 5% compounding interest becomes $816,000. Your coffee habit may really be costing you.
Given the choice, which would you rather have: $1,000,000 in your pocket right now or a penny that doubles in value for 31 days?
Most people would choose the million. However, the doubling penny actually ends up being $10.7 million dollars. Yet, the majority of the growth happens at the very end, and most people aren’t patient enough for the big return. The live for the moment culture of today stops people from investing.
Here is where the notion of “over-night” success comes from. Anything on an exponential curve looks small at the beginning. When you first start a habit, the effects are minor. However, over time, they become major. Thus, out-of-nowhere, someone emerges onto the scene. What you didn’t see were the years of consistent preparation that got them there. Principles govern.
The same holds true of the reverse. Obesity, debt, identity confusion, broken marriages. These things are governed by principles, the compounded effect of daily decisions and misguided premises.
Small things become big things, always.
Your Entire Life Is Preparation
It is for this reason that everything you do matters. Principles, like gravity, are in control. You can’t escape them. The people you spend your time with. The way you save or spend your money. The things you put in your body. The information you put in your head.
Garbage in, garbage out. Quality in, quality out. You control your behavior, principles control the outcomes. Although this may be terrifying to some, I find this reality to be completely liberating. The challenge: learn and apply correct principles.
Although you don’t control the outcomes, you can become adept at predicting the outcomes of your behavior. In this way, you are the designer of your destiny. You choose the effect governing principles will have on you. Do what is right, let the consequence follow.
If you cultivate amazing daily habits, you can be assured a fruitful harvest.
If you read good books every day, over time you will experience exponential changes in the way you think.
If you go to bed and rise early every day, over time you will experience exponential changes in your energy levels.
If you eat healthily and exercise every day, over time you will experience exponential changes in your body.
If you’re thoughtful and kind in your relationships daily, over time you’ll have incredible relationships.
Consistency is the key.
According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, a natural tendency of any isolated system is to degenerate into a more disordered state. Thus, if you don’t maintain and continue to improve, you will naturally be in a state of decline. An unattended garden will always grow weeds. Likewise, your natural tendency is to atrophy and die — physically, spiritually, financially, and in every other way.
Who you are at this present moment is the product of principles in action.
Are You Getting Better?
Are you in a state of decay or are you paying the price to improve?
Did you work harder today than you did yesterday?
Did you focus better, or worse?
Did you eat healthier?
Were you more kind and considerate?
Is the fire burning within you — your why — brighter and bigger, or dimmer and smaller?
Without being conscious and purposeful about these things, you will naturally decline.
Every day is practice. Everything you do is training. Every area of your life affects every other area of your life. When you begin making improvements in one area, all other areas will be affected.
Today is practice. Right now, you’re training.
Everything is training.