Dave Lukas - Lessons for Hannah
250: Lessons for Hannah - Self-Mastery vs. Self-Gratification
Hello Misfit Nation! Welcome to another edition of "Lessons for Hannah!"
In November of 2016, we introduced a new format that we are putting alongside our regular episodes called “Lessons for Hannah.” Hannah is my daughter and one of the main inspirations for the Misfit Entrepreneur. I wanted to have a place where she could go and learn from her daddy and his Misfit friends throughout her life….even after I am gone. If you haven’t listened to the first episode of "Lessons for Hannah," I urge you to as it gives some more background and tells the amazing story of how Hannah came to be in our lives.
"Lessons for Hannah" are short, very useful, and sometimes comical lessons, that I have learned which I want to share with you and give to Hannah to help in your lives. Because I want Hannah to have these for her life, I’m going to speak as though I am talking directly to her. These episodes are a lot of fun and if you think there is a lesson that we should include in these episodes, please don’t hesitate to send it over to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to share it.
This week’s Lesson for Hannah
This is a very important episode in that it is the 250th episode of the Misfit Entrepreneur. It has been such an honor to do this for all these years and help people, including you, through the world over 250 episodes. My sincerest “Thank You” to all that subscribe and listen. This was a tough one for me as it’s the Big 250. And this episode should stand out. As I thought about all the things I could share as a lesson, I kept coming back to something that on the surface seems small, but really impacts everything.
Hannah, I want to share some insight into a very important distinction that will make a difference in all areas of your life from your relationships to your work and even your health.
The distinction is between Self-Mastery and Self-Gratification. The dictionary defines Self-Mastery in just two words, self-control. But what does truly mean? More on that in a second. Conversely, the dictionary defines Self-Gratification as “the indulgence or satisfaction of one’s own desires.”
As human beings, we are locked in a constant struggle between these two things. For most, Self-Gratification and emotions win the majority of the time. This leads to many problems. I’m not saying that emotions and feelings are not important, but emotions and feelings are just that and are not necessarily truth, logic or even rational. For example, think of something you really, really wanted, emotionally. You had to have it. It didn’t matter the cost. So, you spent the money to have it, thus getting self-gratification, only to later have remorse because you spent too much for it or really didn’t need it. How many times in our lives do we act purely out of emotion and get a short feeling of Self-Gratification, only to find it was a mistake later? I would wager a lot.
Self-Mastery is the other side of the coin. It is developing yourself to have total control over your emotions and thus decisions to help you in making sure the choices you make are reasoned and thought-through. Self-Mastery is learning to recognize the emotional impulses and understand them, but to not act on them immediately without giving sincere and logical thought to them. For example, for years I wanted to get a true sports/muscle car. I had seen an Aston Martin DB9 on the road some years ago and emotionally told myself I had to have that car. I was going to get it no matter what. Did I need it? No. Could I afford it? At that time, no. But, after a few years, I was at a point where I could afford to purchase a $200k+ car. And I saw another one on the road, this time a DB11. My immediately emotional reaction was that I needed to go get it. After all, I’d wanted it for years and deserved it, right? It was at this point, that my training on Self-Mastery kicked in and I started to think about the logic and reality of paying $200k+ for a car. What could I do with that $200k instead? I could invest it and make a great return. I could invest in my businesses and help them to grow larger. A car is a depreciating asset, so the moment I would buy it, it would start to become worth less. Was it wise to purchase something with that amount of money that lost value?
In the end, after thinking rationally and logically, I knew the answer. It wasn’t. But I still wanted a sports car!
Fast forward to when Covid hit. Everyone stopped driving. Car dealers were not selling cars and car companies were getting pretty antsy. They started slashing prices and offering deep incentives. By this time things had a changed a little. When I first saw those Aston Martins, it was before you came into our lives and we didn’t have two decent sized dogs. A two-seater sports car would make things a little difficult. But one muscle car that I had always liked and that had a back seat that could fit you and a dog was the Camaro. I started searching a little and built the perfect Camaro online. It was basically a track ready SS with a 650-horsepower engine in a deep cherry red. I got with my sales guy at the dealership (I’ve owned Chevy trucks for years) and had him start searching. After a couple weeks, he found the exact car down to the line item that I had built, and it was the only one in the 5 surrounding states! He then proceeded the tell me that the dealer had slashed the price on it by 30% to move it and he could not even trade for it. He told me to just go buy it direct from them. Which I did. So, in the end, with a little Self-Mastery and keeping Self-Gratification at bay, I got my muscle car that can go toe to toe with an Aston Martin and got it for 30% off the price as well as some other incentives.
Of course, practicing Self-Mastery is much more important that a car purchase as it impacts your relationships, etc. But I think you get the example.
Just remember, though, there is a balance between Self-Mastery and Self-Gratification. Think of them as two sides of a scale. If you lean to too far to one side, the scale tips and that is where you get into trouble on either side. If you cut emotions and Self-Gratification out completely, you basically are a robot and miss out on some great things in life. If you cut out Self-Mastery completely, you become destructive to yourself and those around you. The secret is to find the balance for you. There will always be things in life that Self-Gratification and emotion have more power over. You job is to recognize them, bring some logic to them, and if you proceed, knowingly understand the potential consequences, good or bad, and be prepared for them. No matter what, you must take responsibility for your actions.
One thing that I started doing when I was first taught the difference between Self-Mastery and Self-Gratification was to “stop, ask, and choose,” when it came to big emotional decisions. You know when emotion is bubbling up inside you and you can feel it when you want something really bad. In those times, just take a moment to stop yourself, then ask yourself if this is truly the right decision and why, and then based on that, choose to move forward or not. I know it sounds a little goofy, but it works, and it is awkward in the beginning to literally stop yourself, ask, and then choose how you will move forward, but it gets easier and almost becomes second nature after a while. This little exercise has saved me countless times and I hope you can put it to work for yourself.
Hannah, finding the balance between Self-Mastery and Self-Gratification is a lifelong work and I don’t believe you can every become perfect at it, but just working on it will make a major difference for you and help you in so many ways. I hope you make the commitment to better yourself in this area.
I love you,
There is a balance between Self-Mastery and Self-Gratification. Think of them as two sides of a scale. If you lean to too far to one side, the scale tips and that is where you get into trouble on either side.
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