Real Talk with Judge Dawson

Real Talk with Judge Dawson Week of August 13_2014

Cycle Breaker Leadership Principle number eight is “Develop Self Control.” Self control has been described as a strong predictor of success in life. Its ability to predict success has been ranked right up there with the certainty of success being based on intelligence. So that means, according to some studies, you will succeed if you are intelligent or if you have self control. As a Judge, I see how the lack of self control will lead to criminal activity. There are several cases where I know that, if the parties would have developed and utilized self control, the crime would not have been committed.
In order to be a Cycle Breaker, avoid trouble or negative interaction with the legal system you must develop self control. As you know, I don’t give advice or Cycle Breaker leadership principles without including methods you can use to realize and achieve those principles. My research reveals that to maximize your self control there are two strengths that must be developed, willpower and daily rituals. With so much talk about success, it should not be surprising that defining and discovering willpower has become a hot topic, both with scientists interested in discovering the roots of willpower and professionals trying to help people improve their lives. First we have to understand exactly what willpower means. According to Dr. Roy F. Baumeister, who authored the book “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength,” willpower touches on nearly all aspects of healthy living: eating right, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, studying more, working harder, and spending less. According to Merriam-Webster, willpower is the “ability to control yourself: strong determination that allows you to do something difficult (such as to lose weight or quit smoking).” When you add this definition with the research by Dr. Baumeister and my experience as a Judge, it breaks down to the ability to avoid problems like addiction, overeating, crime, domestic violence, sexually transmitted diseases, prejudice, debt, unwanted pregnancy, educational failure, underperformance at school and work, lack of savings, failure to exercise and many more issues. As a more practical everyday example, we have all witnessed the lack of self control in our work environment. It shows up when people disrespect each other or are not considerate of other’s needs. For the most part, no one comes to work looking for a confrontation, however when a person lacks self control they will inevitably cause friction in the work environment.
The problem with relying on willpower alone is that, according to Dr. Baumeister’s research, willpower is a limited resource subject to being used up. However, as a Cycle Breaker I have a backup plan to make sure you stay on track and avoid derailment. The additional tool is to establish daily rituals. According to Merriam-Webster, “Rituals” is defined as “an act or series of acts regularly reposted in a set and precise manner.” To stay in line with living your best life you will need to use daily rituals on the days when you don’t have the willpower to do what you said you would do. That’s when you rely on daily rituals. Once you allow certain things, acts or behaviors to become a part of your daily rituals you will be able to keep moving in your desired direction even when your will is low. Take for example a desire to lose weight. You can use your willpower to get up and go to the gym as well as avoid certain foods, but when the “will” gets low, you will go back to your old habits. However if going to the gym is a ritual that you set in your schedule at 4 p.m. every day, that ritual becomes a part of your life and therefore easier to stay committed to. Though I make it sound easy, I know it’s not. If you want to learn more about Cycle breaker Leadership Principle number eight, “Develop Self Control” join Judge Dawson’s Cycle Breaker/Finish First program on Monday nights at 5:30 p.m., at the East Cleveland Municipal Court. East Cleveland Municipal Court’s Judge William L. Dawson is on a mission to help people to Finish First, live their best lives and be Cycle Breakers!

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