“Steady, boys, steady” (David Garrick).
FOR EVERY TIME WHEN WE NEED TO CHANGE, THERE ARE MANY MORE TIMES WHEN WE NEED TO HOLD STEADY. And for every person who is hurting himself by being unadaptable, there are many more who are hurting themselves by being unsteady.
The main ingredient in steadiness, obviously, is self-control. No matter what course we’ve charted for ourselves, it’s inevitable that some contrary winds are going to blow against us somewhere along the way. Without a certain amount of self-control, we’re simply not going to make it to our destination. To keep fluctuations, deviations, and vacillations from undoing us, we have to be able to enforce the dictates of our will. Our “self” must be governed and controlled.
A lack of self-control, and therefore steadiness, is what keeps most people from getting where they ought to go. They may know how to “talk the talk,” they may have occasional flashes of inspiration and bursts of energy, they may even have enormous intelligence and talent — but without steadiness, they won’t have many actual accomplishments to their credit when all is said and done. Despite all they could have done, they will have done less than the good ol’ boy who may not have known many things, but he knew how to keep putting one foot in front of the other, steadily. But that’s not a very new insight, is it? In the fable of The Tortoise And The Hare, Aesop tried to teach us long ago that “slow and steady wins the race.”
If you have a few friends who possess steadiness, you have one of life’s genuine treasures. Those who are “steady of heart, and stout of hand” (Sir Walter Scott) deserve our highest esteem. But we ought to do more than just want steady people around us; we ought to be steady people ourselves. The steadiness that comes from being able to control ourselves will help to steady the lives of those who deal with us. We may never know exactly how, but holding a steady course in our own “little” lives really does help the bigger world around us.
Be his my special thanks, whose even-balanced soul,
From first youth tested up to extreme old age,
Business could not make dull, nor passion wild:
Who saw life steadily and saw it whole.