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“Obedience is different to freedom. But it is not its opposite. You can freely choose to obey.”

“First rule of personal development reading: Don’t question the text. Let the text ask questions of YOU.”

“Your personal mission/vision statement: “A summons to you every morning, a checklist every night.”

Abbott Christopher Jamison

I’ve quoted three times this week because I found all three in a single holiday read entitled, “Finding Sanctuary.” Notwithstanding the fact that the book is written by a Benedictine monk (that UK TV viewers may know through the programme The Monastery) it is refreshingly short in religious content – so short that I felt able to reflect on the quotes from a secular, personal development perspective.

From a Three Resolutions angle, then, look at the three quotes. The first is recognition that just because a framework exists in life or work doesn’t mean that you are controlled by it – it means that you have a framework within which you have the freedom to act with conscience. If you are the creator of that framework, then you are obedient only to your own values and standards, and if you are doing a job you chose, then it will be what you make of it. You are free to obey what you choose to obey. If what you choose seems, to others, to be onerous then they may accuse you of blind obedience – but if you have chosen that obedience as a free man – then you demonstrate self-discipline, self-denial and character.

The second quote is a pointed remark aimed at those who see a book and question its content because of some invented or irrelevant reason, like the woman who picked up a book on leadership and glanced at the contents page, dismissively declared, “Huh! Written by a Mormon” and so failed to ask the better question, “Can I learn from what’s in it?” Or, as I might have bluntedly asked, “Do you have the intellectual capacity to get over your prejudice and actually read the book to see if religion is even mentioned?” (Smile…) I only respect the opinions on book made by those who’ve read and understood the content, not those who judge it by its cover alone. (And copying ‘The Secret’s cover design template doesn’t make your book good.) You don’t develop or learn or grow by pre-judging something based on a glance, tempting as that often is.

The last quote was the one that made me get out and go running while I was on holidays (hence my absence last week.) It’s a doozy. The quote is a profound reminder that once you have a mission statement or a set of unifying principles it’s a good idea to remind yourself in the morning what it says – treating is as a ‘summons to action/compliance – and then, at the end of that day, review it to check whether or not you lived in congruence with what you have stated you believe. Did you plan your day based on that mission, and have you demonstrated character, provided service, exercised self-discipline and executed on it?

Read more. It’s empowering.

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