Discipline for a diploma
That’s when Batara got serious about the kind of self-discipline a monk might envy. He didn’t just want his degree. He wanted to be a better husband, a better father and a better employee as well.
“At that time, I started listening to a lot of self-development,” Batara says. “Everything affirmed my beliefs that in order for you to get to [that] point, you had to ‘break’ or get rid of the old self.”
Batara started rising at 3 a.m. every day, dedicating the hours between 3:30 and 7 a.m. to school and personal growth (reading, writing and exercising). From 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., he focused on career growth, and then he committed himself to family time between 5 and 8:30 p.m.
“Gary’s discipline and dedication to fit in school with his career, family and personal commitments didn’t really surprise me because, before school, he was already disciplined on going to the gym and working out regularly first thing in the morning,” Marilyn says. “Anyone who works out on a consistent basis knows it’s not about motivation. It’s about discipline and building strong habits.”
That discipline trickled into other parts of his life with positive results too. He recognized areas at home where he could help out not because it benefited him directly but because it was simply the right thing to do.
He reconnected with his siblings, making a point to name a day and time when they should get together rather than promising some vague date. And, when his Bachelor of Science in Management was completed in 2019, he paid his parents back for the tuition they provided for his degree. Yes, the money could’ve come in handy since Marilyn had decided to stop working outside the home to focus on raising their children, but Batara knew the sacrifice was the right one to make.
Then he signed up for the Master of Business Administration – Competency-Based program.
Batara’s career, meanwhile, didn’t suffer for the added responsibilities at home and at school. In fact, quite the opposite.
“Ultimately, I started to do even better in my career, because I was less focused on myself,” Batara says, sounding a little stunned. “The trajectory of my career continues to go up, but it is a lot more meaningful, and there are people like my wife around me again encouraging me.”
For her part, Marilyn sees plenty to encourage. “Now, our family spends a lot more quality time with each other,” she says. “Gary has learned to take on more yet manage his time effectively and efficiently.”
Pacing for the future
Part of Batara’s professional success may also be his commitment to transparency. He was forthright with his leadership when he explained that he wanted to go back to school and that he also runs a marketing consultancy on the side.
All of that would be impressive enough, but Batara had one more project up his sleeve. He wrote a book.
Due to be published in 2024 by Addicus Books, 5000 Hours in 5 Minutes distills wisdom that Batara has gleaned from spending 5,000 hours devouring books and content on personal development, psychology and philosophy. The book compiles quotes from leaders and luminaries whose stories, Batara explains, have something to teach everyone about seeking the harder but more fulfilling path.
Looking at the root of all this change, Batara is profoundly aware of how fortunate he has been. He had career success and family and friends. He had enough sense (or grace) to recognize their value before he lost everything. And he had the iron will to work for redemption.
“University of Phoenix,” he says with an air of one who’s had a close call, “it really saved my life, because, genuinely, I was just careless and reckless with it.” Discipline, exerted over the course of his two degree programs, just happened to be his path back to salvation.