Nothing was ever achieved without discipline: and many an athlete and many a man has been ruined because he abandoned discipline and let himself grow slack. Coleridge is the supreme tragedy of indiscipline. Never did so great a mind produce so little. He left Cambridge University to join the army; but he left the army because, in spite of all his erudition, he could not rub down a horse; he returned to Oxford and left without a degree. He began a paper called The Watchman which lived for ten numbers and then died. It has been said of him: “He lost himself in visions of work to be done, that always remained to be done. Coleridge had every poetic gift but one — the gift of sustained and concentrated effort.” In his head and in his mind he had all kinds of books, as he said himself, “completed save for transcription.” “I am on the eve,” he says, “of sending to the press two octavo volumes.” But the books were never composed outside Coleridge’s mind, because he could not face the discipline of sitting down to write them out. No one ever reached any eminence, and no one having reached it ever maintained it, without discipline.” — William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the creative genius behind classic poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel and Kubla Khan was notorious for his meager literary output, in spite of this towering gifts. Perhaps his opium addition contributed to his slothful approach to life and work.
While I lack his abilities, I find all too often that I can relate to poor work ethic. Though I don’t have Coleridge’s fondness for opium, I do have diversions that numb me to more important pursuits.
What about you? Is there anything that has helped you grow in self discipline?