Many of us know that if we want strong muscles, we have to exercise them. After all, the body certainly does work on the "use it or lose it" principle. So, we deliberately use our muscles to make them strong, keep them strong, and make them available should we ever need them. Through discipline and engaging, we strengthen our bodies' muscles.
I said the body works off of the use it or lose it principle. Almost everything about you works off of this principle. Another way to look at the use it or lose it principle could be to see it as the "train it and gain it" principle.
Anything, or any quality, we want to possess, or be "strong" at, we need to train that quality. I mean to say that we need to exercise the qualities we want to possess. If we want healthy teeth, we need to brush, floss, and rinse regularly. If we want to have integrity, we need to practice telling the truth and doing what we say - daily. If we want to have less scowl and frown lines, we should smile more often. You can pick anything, or quality, you want to possess, and you can certainly obtain it through deliberate "practice" - through engaging in that quality.
This is a simple concept, but I think it eludes a lot of us. We often want things, or ideas, that we could easily have if we would only engage and practice building or working towards our desired goal. For many of us the difference between success and failure is that we are simply not using our engagement muscles.
Your engagement muscles are the muscles, or acts, that you need to practice on a regular basis in order to obtain whatever it is you are seeking. If you never train your engagement muscles, you are setting yourself up for failure when you really need to call upon them for your desired result.
I know this is confusing, but let's look at an example:
Pretend like you want to avoid eating pasta. Pretend like you have decided pasta is sabotaging your diet. So, in order to not fall victim to the traps of pasta, you start engaging in activities that promote this desired strength, this desired will power to avoid pasta. You could avoid the pasta aisle all together in the grocery store so that you are not tempted to buy it. If you do cook it, you could decide to measure out a single serving of pasta and only cook that so that you can monitor your portion. You could even replace your spaghetti with spaghetti squash if you like. The point is, you could engage in activities that foster and strengthen your new desire. Eventually, pasta may not even be a temptation for you any longer.
Now pretend like you did engage, and you strengthened your anti-pasta decision and now you find yourself in a family gathering with lots of pasta choices to dine on. If your anti-pasta engagement muscle has been thoroughly exercised, you may find that you have all the strength and will power in the world to only place a few noodles on your plate or avoid it all together. However, this could spell certain pasta disaster that could lead to all sorts of guilt and condemnation for the person who never really engaged in activities to strengthen their anti-pasta choosing/eating muscles.
Does this make any sense?
We have to train our engagement muscles. We need to exercise the qualities we want to possess. How can we be strong when we need to be in any area if we never engage in the discipline it takes to be strong in that area? We can't.
You want to be a great dad? Engage in time with your kids. You want to be an awesome wife? Practice being awesome to your husband. You want to have arches in your feet? Practice walking around barefooted. You want to be like Honest Abe? Practice telling the truth. Want to be good at avoiding sweets? Practice avoiding them, practice saying "no." It doesn't matter what it is you want, you can have it if you practice deliberate engagement towards that goal.
If you want success in any area, you have to train your engagement muscles.