Why is Self-Control Important?
“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.”
– Lao Tzu
Throughout your kindergarten through college career you probably never took (or will never take) a class on self-control even though it is something that you will deal with every day of your life. Self-control determines how much you eat, your temper, habits, and emotions. Lack of self-control can lead to anything from gaining a few extra pounds to spending the rest of your life in jail.
In 2009, then Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount punched Boise State defensive end Byron Hout in the jaw on national television after losing 19-8. The punch initially got him a season-long suspension. Blount was later reinstated for the last month of the season. “It was just something that I shouldn’t have done. I lost my head,” Blount said after the game. The consequences of his actions that night significantly affected his college career. In the prior year, the 2008 season, Blount had rushed for a school record 17 touchdowns, had over 1,000 yards in rushing, averaged 7.3 yards per carry, and was on the 2009 Doak Walker Award Watch List. Blount’s 2009 season was set to be a year full of awards and significant accomplishments. Unfortunately, because of the punch Blunt lost a large portion of his senior season (8 games), several potential awards, and a significant amount of money considering he was a top NFL draft prospect at the running back position. Blunt went from being a sure early round pick in the NFL draft to being an undrafted free agent. Fortunately for Blount, he has since overcome the incident, and has gone on to have a successful career in the NFL.
Being able to control your habits, impulses, and emotions can have both positive and negative effects on your life. Controlling your emotions and habits are keys to success.
Material Things Will Not Make You Happy
“Money can buy you a bed but can’t buy you rest.”
– Bishop Charles Blake
Material things (cars, jewelry, clothes) are similar to candy. Candy can provide a short-term satisfaction to hunger but doesn’t supply a well-balanced, nutrient-rich meal. Candy also is not an option for long-term nourishment and if eaten continuously over a long period of time, can adversely affect your health and lead to anything from tooth decay to diabetes.
In life, things are candy and relationships are the well-balanced meals. Healthy relationships can last a lifetime and can be the vehicle that gets you through tough times, e.g., a break-up or the death of a loved-one. Friends can also help celebrate life milestones (birthdays, graduations) and accomplishments. Regardless of how good they look or feel, the latest pair of Air Jordans, like candy, can only provide you with a temporary state of happiness.
No matter what kind of life-style you desire, you should not live your life to impress people, known or unknown. Your life should not be lived for short-term fixes (candy) nor should it adversely affect you for the long-term. A car, a house, or a bad habit you can’t afford can negatively affect your financial state, relationships, and even your health. Be honest with yourself and live on what you can afford. Don’t worry about or try to compete with the fantasy lives people post on Facebook and Instagram or what you see in music videos. A superficial lifestyle will leave a void that can only be filled with meaningful interactions and relationships.
Don’t Let a Car Define Who You Are
“No one is so miserable as the poor person who maintains the appearance of wealth.”
– Charles Spurgeon
A few years after I graduated from college I heard a story about two guys who lived in an apartment on the West Side of Los Angeles. They both agreed to lease a Lexus S300 Coup, one of the most luxurious cars on the road at the time. One would drive the car Monday through Thursday and the other would drive it on Friday through Sunday. This arrangement was solely for each to pursue women at clubs and bars around Los Angeles.
Although many people assume so, cars say nothing about who you are or how much money you have. From my experience, many people who drive a nice car cannot afford it and are only driving it to impress or for the approval of other people. In fact, people in this ilk often use a car as a crutch for the lack of self-confidence. They believe that they are being judged by the car they are driving. But in reality, those that want to be around you because you have a nice car aren’t really interested in you and shouldn’t be worth your time. In every major city, you will see individuals cruising the “boulevard” for hours trying to attract people based on their car in the ultimate “Look at Me Contest.” They try everything under the sun from loud music and elaborate paint jobs to sparkly and spinning rims. While there is nothing wrong with being a car enthusiast, there is a point where spending $2,000 on rims and tires on car that is worth $4,000 makes no sense. Don’t let a car define who you are and don’t make assumptions about people who drive nice cars. Either they can afford it or they can’t afford it and use it to their advantage.
Why Having Multiple Children By Multiple Women Is Not A Good Idea
“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”
– Sigmund Freud
Moulay Ismaïl Ibn Sharif, a Morrocan King who ruled during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, allegedly fathered 867 children, including 525 sons and 342 daughters. Three hundred years later, then New York Jet’s defensive back, Antonio Cromartie, was asked during an interview for the HBO television show Hard Knocks, to name all his children. It was a basic question, but Cromartie, had difficulty naming them all. Cromartie, who has twelve children by eight different women, casually laughed off the matter. Had Cromartie lived three hundred years ago as a king with a concubine and lived in a society without child support laws, this would not have been a big deal. While I make no assumptions about Cromartie’s relationship with his children, the implications of having multiple children by multiple women have enormous consequences. It is hardly a healthy emotional situation for the children of these kinds of relationships.
More importantly, children from fatherless homes make up 70% of juvenile facilities, 63% of all suicides, and 71% of all high school dropouts. Furthermore, children from two-parent low income households outperform kids from high income, single parent families.
Men that have children by multiple women is a huge problem that destroys communities. A child who grows up with an absentee or sporadic father will suffer from emotional and psychological scars that, in many cases, will last a lifetime. Having a child is not a matter to be taken lightly. It involves providing financial, emotional, and psychological support as well as an enormous amount of time. While there is no set number of children one should have, having children should be based on loving —not lustful —relationships, financial strength, and a strong emotional disposition (Are you ready to have children?).
“Families are like fudge... mostly sweet with a few nuts.”
– Author Unknown
Your view of your family members as a child will differ from your view as an adult. The uncle who you thought was a huge man as a child might not seem like a giant as an adult. The sister who you were once close to may be a bit distant as an adult. With family you will find that as you get older, the relationships that you had with your siblings as children may be quite different in adulthood. As people get older, they develop diverse interests, take distinctive paths, and often grow apart. This happens a lot in large families where some may advance to a highly successful professional career while other siblings get caught up in street life. This causes tensions because some street-oriented family members may be of the opinion that their successful siblings think that they are better than them. However, their only crime was wanting to improve their lives by going to school and finding a job. This kind of sentiment is usually more of a reflection of how they feel about themselves. They lack self-confidence and feel threatened by what their siblings have become. Success puts pressure on them to succeed.
There may come a time when you have to keep some family members at a distance. Although you may have had a great relationship as kids, their behavior and associations as an adult may cause great harm to everything you have worked for. You can still love them and hold them in high regard, albeit at a distance.
“Women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.”
– U.S. Department of Justice
Each year scores of athletes in every major sport are charged with domestic violence. Some cases are dropped for a number of reasons ranging anywhere from lack of evidence to false charges from a vengeful spouse. But those who are charged with domestic violence face severe legal and professional consequences. For example, in California two of the most common domestic violence laws are Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant and Domestic Battery. While the Corporal Injury to a Spouse requires a visible injury, the Domestic Battery law does not. The sentence for any of these charges can range from a $6,000 fine to one to four years in jail.
In addition to going to jail, a domestic violence charge can severely hinder or ruin your professional career. In 2014, perhaps the most visible and infamous domestic violence case involved Baltimore Ravens running back named Ray Rice. While many domestic violence cases occur without visible injuries or are his word versus her word, Rice was caught on an elevator video knocking out his then fiancé. The video played thousands of times on national television. Initially, Rice was suspended for a few games but eventually was banned from the NFL. Rice ended up losing millions of dollars in salary and his endorsement deals with Nike, EA for Madden NFL 2015, and VertiMax were canceled.
Arguments in a relationship induce the deepest of emotions. If you ever find yourself in a heated argument with a significant other, it’s best to walk away. If you injure a spouse or girlfriend, you will have to deal with consequences. This may include jail-time, fines, or the loss of employment. Plus you will look like a weak person who is unable to control his emotions.
“But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”
– Galatians 6:4
Entourages can be both a blessing and a curse. In a normal situation an entourage is simply a group of people who support an athlete in his or her business and/or administrative endeavors. This group could be anyone from a manager who is responsible for scheduling to a lawyer/agent who advises on legal matters or a nutritionist who ensures an athlete is eating properly. For many athletes, family and friends often serve as members of an entourage. That’s usually a good idea when each member of an entourage has been trained for that specific task. But if they do not have experience it can hurt you financially and professionally. For instance, if your uncle hasn’t been trained in filing tax returns then he shouldn’t be your accountant.
Entourages become a problem when individuals don’t contribute value and are more concerned about the social and financial benefits that come along with being affiliated with a famous athlete. Famous musician MC Hammer was said to have had an entourage of over 200 people that reportedly cost him $500,000 a month. Former NBA star Antoine Walker supported 70 family members and associates. Another NBA star, Allen Iverson, at times traveled with a 50-person entourage.
Paying your cousin Tony who was “there from day one” to sit on the couch and play NFL Madden with you is not good for either of you. You both would be better off if you paid for him to go to school so that he can truly be an asset to your entourage. For cousin Tony to spend his early to mid twenties clubbing and lounging on the couch playing Grand Theft Auto, is counter-productive. He will regret this later in life. Since Tony is someone you trust, it’s better to pay for him to educate himself so that he can contribute something positive to your career. In the long run, Tony gains because he now has marketable skills he can use for a lifetime and you benefit because you now have a trusted friend who can provide you with valuable advice.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Everyone comes from somewhere. Make sure you give back to the community that you came from as well as the community in which you reside. Giving back can be donating money, materials (shoes, clothes, etc.), your time, or expertise to different organizations. Helping individuals who are less fortune or suffer from disabilities helps put life into perspective. Support your local youth football, basketball, baseball, track, or soccer organization. Many youth sports organizations fundraise to pay for uniforms, league/tournament fees, trophies, and field expenses. Donations from community members help make it easier to support youth sports. Make giving back to your community a part of your life.
In 2014, Jason Brown, and NFL center, walked away from a five-year, $37 million contract with the St. Louis Rams to start a farming business called First Fruits Farm. He plans to donate the first fruits of his harvest to food pantries in North Carolina who in turn will give the food to needy families.
Get a Mentor
“Successful students had one or more teachers who were mentors and took a real interest in their aspirations . . . ”
— Thomas L. Friedman
New York Times
September 9, 2014
If you want to become successful at something it’s prudent to seek the advice of one or more mentors—someone you can talk to on a periodic basis. A mentor will have more life experience than you and will thus be able to prepare and forewarn you about the potential pitfalls and obstacles that you may encounter in life as well in the profession you decide to pursue. The advice and expertise of a mentor is priceless and should be included in your road to success. Having several mentors will offer you an even greater view of success. Since most people are experts at one thing, having a few mentors will give you diverse opinions that will help you make better decisions about your career.
Be A Mentor Touch Someone’s Life
“The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people.”
— John C. Maxwell
In 1949 my father had lived in Detroit, Michigan and planned to attend Fullerton Junior College in Fullerton, CA. He did not have the money for the 2,000 mile trip. A man named William Mobley heard about my father’s situation and went around the Northend neighborhood of Detroit gathering donations for his trip. He collected from friends and strangers alike until he had enough money for the ticket to “California.” Mobley was a star football player at Tuskegee University in the 1920’s and had coached a semi-pro team called the Detroit Pioneers in the 1930’s and 1940’s. In 1974 Mobley was elected into the Tuskegee Football Hall of Fame.
My father eventually made it to Fullerton where he played football, basketball, and track. Ultimately, he ended up at UCLA where he lettered in football for the legendary Red Sanders. He also ran track and played on the rugby team.
Throughout my father’s early life, Mobley, who was 25 years older than my father, always looked after my father. He gave him advice both on and off the field. As Mobley got older my father always made it a point to visit him when we came to Detroit in the summer. I remember how Mobley and his wife Christine would make us dinner and my father would always make sure I washed the dishes after the meal. They were the nicest people and made a strong impression on me. Mobley passed away in the 1980’s but his kindness and influence can be felt decades after his death.
Mobley’s generosity has extended far beyond my father’s life. In fact, his act of kindness can be felt to this day with at least 15 of my family members who have made the trek to California. Had Mobley not been there for my father, our lives would have been quite different.
“If nothing else in life, I want to be true to the things I believe in, and quite simply, to what I’m all about. I know I’d better, because it seems whenever I take a false step or two I feel the consequences.”
In life you will make thousands of decisions. Most will be insignificant. However, there will be a few major decisions like figuring out which college to go to, what subject to major in, and who to marry that will change the course of your life. Most decisions in life, good or bad, can be altered. For example, if you realized you selected a major that doesn’t pay as much you thought it would, you could always go back to school to gain more skills. It is a decision that can be changed and doesn’t have life-long consequences. However, there a few instances where you could make a decision that cannot be fixed easily and may cause you to lose control of your life. These situations can negatively affect your quality of life forever.
On November 4, 2001 Nate Newton, a six time All Pro selection and three-time Super Bowl winner for the Dallas Cowboys was caught with 213 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop in Louisiana. Six weeks later he was caught again with 175 pounds of marijuana during another traffic stop in Texas. Newton was sentenced to 30 months in a federal penitentiary. Considering his athletic accomplishments and background with the Dallas Cowboys, Newton could have started a business venture that was less dangerous and one that didn’t carry a prison sentence.
Instead Newton got caught up in the allure of fast money. He ultimately spent 30 months of his life in a prison cell and is now a registered felon. He lost the right to vote (for period of time in Texas) and the right to bear arms. He will also have to check the “convicted felon” box on employment and housing applications for the remainder of his life.
No one goes through life making perfect decisions. And while you shouldn’t live your life indecisively, for each significant decision you make, think about the long and short term consequences and how they can affect your life. Some decisions you make will be hard to alter and others can be changed easily. Bad decisions can take an enormous toll on your physical, financial, social, and emotional well-being. Think before you act.