Self-restraint is the diamond in the pearl chain of all virtues. In the command of oneself lies the foundation of independence. “ He who reigns within himself and rules his passion, desires and fear is more than a King” (John Milton).
Ambitions have the propensity to let you lose self-control, especially if it is a compulsive disorder, to achieve a goal, with no respect for its cost of perceived success. There has to be a balance between ambition and self -restraint. In our everyday work life, enthusiasm can propel action towards striking other colleagues, like the electric storm can land anywhere. In doing so, what is forgotten, is that lack of control injures others but also injures you.
There are managers who never hesitate to push their opinion which may entirely be based upon hear-say or unreasonable hypothesis. Such cannot check their negative tendencies and hence go on an over-drive to believe anything brought to their notice, and this is done, without seeking justification and substantiation. Freedom of thinking here, goes haywire. Enslavement of mind is a prerequisite for effective leadership. Keeping the impulsive drive to reject others point of view; from the temptation to offer unsolicited advice and from succumbing to selfish desires, requires training and self-discipline, for restraint to become the guiding feature. A life of restraint is fulfilling.
Self-restraint prevents the usage of the law of retaliation, “ our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt” (William Shakespeare). Our hesitations towards controlling our thoughts and resultant actions, are the most critical elements, that need positive harnessing. Why is it difficult to accept that offering an apology is not an act of humiliation. A lack of recognition that most of us suffer is that self-control takes away negative and destructive emotions like envy, hatred, jealousy, fear, revenge, etc. Exercising control over such emotions is a prelude towards acquisition of personal power; and it is a proven fact of leadership that personal power drives other into action in a far better manner than does positional power.
The moment anybody displays loss of self control, that individual becomes a spectacle of animalistic tendencies. Recall to mind, how ugly the manager looks, when he loses his shirt in public.
The victim of public onslaught is always the victor. The effected party is in command, it is now in their possession the power to pardon, the one losing self-control or they may even choose to publish and broadcast within the organization, which will be to the peril of the aggressor.
Imposition of self-restraint has no limits. It is far better to be harsh to one-self and must instead show greatness towards all- Only when we decide to yield to temptation, of any and all sorts, that we begin to lose control over self. Temptation to react, is a fundamental check, that all leaders and managers , must imbibe and inculcate. It must always be reigned. We witness that managers, whose colleagues become bringer of bad tidings, real or perceived, and it sets the manager on fire; he gets agitated to the extent, where self-control is thrown to the winds, and statements(expletives!) are made, that go towards creating regret, later. In this era of terrorism of all types, I have seen friends picking upon security personal, on their demand, to follow their duty of checking, at security points. Those who cannot control themselves will often find themselves losing business opportunities. This happens silently and without recognition to the sufferer.
Any person that demonstrates tendencies of being an unbridled wild horse, is he who desperately must be saddled with sobriety, for getting into harnessed stated of behaviour. Psychologists’ believe that “dominating thought” controls our actions. You, as leader or manager, should choose your thoughts and let not others invade your mind, that is self-control. The quest to achieve must dominate your thoughts; it allows for focus and avoids you be-getting the opportunity to go astray. Success is dependent upon self-restraint. Managers must listen more and talk less; the more one talks, the lesser is self-restraint. Leaders, are always good listeners. They also avoid unnecessary socialization.
Buddha had said: The wise who control body, speech, mind are indeed the consummately controlled.
To conquer the reactive self is the first victory and if it is to the contrary, it can bring upon shame and sorrow. Let no selfish drive make your mind a slave. Self-restraint is a virtue to contain the ambitions of the unbridled thought of a manager/Leader.
If we look around the behaviour of great leaders in history; we find them all to be excellent controllers of their own self. They are true examples of self-restraint. Lincoln had within his cabinet, his die-hard opponents, whose views he accepted, because he knew they may be against his version, but those were all intended for the well being of the state. He remained tolerant, because the interest of the state was far above triumph of personal opinion. Self-controlling individuals are real managers and bosses. The control over self allows for putting up strong forces of defending oneself from the influence of the cynic and the pessimists, who in plenty roam, in the corridors of all offices. What is not right, mustn't be done; and what is not true, mustn’t be said. It is best to keep your actions and tongue in complete control of your self. In life, generally and in corporate life in particular, there is no room, for anyone to slander.
I have seen in my decades at work, the remorse and sadness many managers suffer at the hands of their inability to rein in the tendencies to fly out to control, on the slightest of provocation.
Self-restraint, should be exercised, both in adversity and prosperity. Human behavior is prone to lose self-control in both states, be it of object adversity or the height of prosperity.
At peace and in calm, self-restraint is never challenged or discovered; it is only called upon, either in victory or defeat. It is all about repression of uncontrollable thoughts that spur one to become rudderless vessel, with the navigation wheel, being in utter distress of each restraint.
The test of possession of self-restraint is only in contradiction.
The writer is a senior banker and freelance columnist