Betterment is not a one-time choice, it involves a series of choices that we make over the course of our life until the time we depart this world.
We should never stop our efforts to get better, no matter our circumstances. Whether it’s old age, an illness, a personal or professional crisis, or dire finances, we should never stop doing the work that our higher self and our personal growth demands.
Having the best of intentions is not enough, we must act as well. In other words, actions matter more than intentions. As the quote from Batman Begins goes, “It’s not who you are underneath, [but] it’s what you do that defines you.”
Diogenes, the Cynic philosopher, didn’t let his old age undermine his efforts to doing the actions that philosophy demanded of him. He was criticized for not taking care of himself during his old age, for being too active, and not resting easy and living a relaxed life like other people of his age. In his words, he did not believe in slackening the pace when approaching the goal. No person with honesty, commitment and focus would ever do that. Right up until the end of his life, Diogenes never stopped bettering himself and his life; he was always challenging norms, opposing power, limiting his wants and irrelevant desires, and insisted on living in accordance with the truth.
Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan is someone who hasn’t shun honing his craft as well and is still working relentlessly and working actively in films while most of his contemporaries have retired and are no longer pursuing their careers. Like wine, he has been getting better and better in his performances, and he hasn’t let his age become a roadblock in his way. We can say the same about Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has never stopped challenging himself, and charting new territories and conquering them.
Another great example is Jocko Willink. Even though he’s no longer in the Navy SEAL, he still works hard to maintain his daily disciplines. Every day, he follows his early morning fitness routine, does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and stays steadfast in his entrepreneurial efforts.
Like these people, and many other people around the world who have refused to settle, we can work towards pushing our limits, and choose the path of betterment and kaizen, no matter who we are and what we’re going through. We can constantly work hard on ourselves becoming better day by day, and never let our foot off the gas pedal.
No matter how old you are, how many books you’ve read, how many educational materials you have consumed, it’s still too early to stop now, to say you’ve grown enough. Like a bamboo tree, we have to keep going and growing as high as we can. As Jim Rohn pointed out, “Until” can be our magic word.
Promise yourself to give your best effort, to be relentless and resilient, and to give your absolute 100%, no matter what. Every single day that we get is an opportunity to act on this promise. To be the shining example of success, discipline and commitment.