The entirety of self-improvement wisdom can be encapsulated in one compound noun.

Alexei Sorokin
3 min readMar 1, 2024

I could bet that there are no exceptions: every piece of self-improvement advice ever documented in the annals of human history — spanning from the teachings of ancient philosophers to narratives of ordinary individuals sharing their experiences and recommendations — inevitably comes down to some variation of this wisdom.

Relationships

Money

Addictions

Health

Fitness

Writing

Finding happiness in life

Business and deal-making

Building confidence

You name it — any area of life.

The exact recommendation will vary from topic to topic. It can be framed positively — do this, or negatively — don’t do this. The themes of discipline and consistency will be common. In relationship blogs, there will be mentions of self-love and respecting boundaries.

But it all comes down to one concept. Or let’s say one specific area of self-improvement supersedes everything else. Everything else is a derivative or a subset of it.

I’m writing this because my own journey of self-discovery, re-invention, and self-improvement made me realize that nothing matters if you can’t master this one skill. Or, to put it more positively, this skill unlocks your powers and gives you instant energy for overcoming challenges and getting closer to your goals.

Self-control.

It’s so easy to grasp, this concept.

The moment you’re able to override a bad impulse and exercise self-control, you get an immediate boost to your self-confidence and gain clarity. A bad impulse can mean a lot of things — succumbing to a bad habit or addiction, or becoming emotional in a confrontation with someone; it can mean acquiring something without financial discipline; it can mean rushing in a negotiation or a relationship; it can mean being lazy and not getting out of bed; it can mean being messy; it can mean a rushed judgment; it can mean not being consistent with your endeavors, hobbies and good intentions. The examples are numerous.

Unfortunately, self-control is not easy to exercise. The impulses we face are too strong, and there is often too much going on in our brains.

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Alexei Sorokin

A Russian immigrant in America, father of 4, Cambridge and Harvard Business School alum. I run and write every day. https://runningwritingliving.substack.com/