Carl Mays: Self-discipline can become very rewarding

Jan. 18, 2013 @ 11:34 PM

It would be interesting to know how many of my readers have ever heard of boiled custard, let alone tasted it. If you understand what I’m talking about and if you actually enjoy boiled custard as much as I do, then this little story about self-discipline will mean more to you.

For the uninformed, however, let me just explain that boiled custard is a drink similar to eggnog – but much better. To me, eggnog cannot touch the unique taste and smooth texture of good ole’ Southern-made boiled custard.

My mother prepared boiled custard every Christmas season. Later, my wife Jean and her mother often provided this delicious drink. However, let me also explain that homemade boiled custard is a time-consuming, attention-requiring concoction. I know this from observation and from the times I was recruited to pitch in and help with the stirring. Our son Carl II has also been a “stirrer of the pot.”

So, somewhere along the line when we discovered the availability of some pretty good boiled custard in a few select stores, we began to settle for the store-bought variety. But, just to show you how in some areas of our contemporary society we have proved to be less knowledgeable than our ancestors, boiled custard has become very scarce. And, as I hinted in the opening line of this column, most geographic areas of our so-called civilized country have never even been introduced to the treat.

Thus, this past Thanksgiving season when I dropped by Gatlinburg’s Food City to pick up a few items and saw some Food City brand boiled custard, I only hesitated briefly before grabbing a quart. The hesitation and the “only–one–quart” action occurred because of the very high caloric and fat content in this personally enticing nectar.

Since Jean doesn’t care for boiled custard as much as I do, and since she cares even less about consuming the calories and fat therein, I daily rationed the quart for a week – and did not – did not, I said – go back for more.

Then came Christmas and we traveled to Texas to spend the holiday season with Carl II, wife Beth and their son Trey. Of course, needless to say, Carl II, who enjoys boiled custard as much as I do, discovered several years ago when they moved to Dallas that most people out there are unfamiliar with the drink and they found no stores that stock it.

Of course, when they lived “far up North” in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia before settling in Texas, it was nonexistent. He actually delved into the task of making the custard a couple of times, but that fell by the wayside. As I emphasized earlier, it is a tedious process.

Now, here’s the real self-discipline part – drum roll please.) Upon returning from Texas, I dropped by Food City again to pick up a few things – and there it was – a “Manager’s Special” sign above a half-dozen quarts of BOILED CUSTARD. The price was one dollar per quart! I paused, studied the display, and then walked on to get the low-fat cheese for which I came.

After getting the cheese, I walked back toward the display, picked up a quart of custard and saw the January 17 expiration date, declaring it good for another 11 days. I put a quart in my basket, took a couple of steps, turned back and replaced it. I picked it up again, read the caloric and fat content, replaced it again and walked away.

Self-discipline can be a struggle when you are in the middle of it, but very rewarding when you look back on it.

© 2013 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author, whose mentoring site is based on his “A Strategy For Winning” book and program. Contact or view