He was young, handsome, and successful. His name was Ted Healy. By the time he was in his twenties, he was one of the most successful people in show business. He had already performed on Broadway, formed his own touring company, filmed several Hollywood movies, and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yet he had some problems in his private life. He drank excessively, and when he drank, he grew violent, even vicious. He was promiscuous and unfaithful in fulfilling the vows of his marriage. Ultimately, his carousing cost him his wife and family.

At thirty-five, Ted Healy drank himself drunk one night, got himself into a fight, got slugged, fell, hit his head, and died. A tragic end to a life that had been so promising at one time.

A few years before Ted Healy died, a movie studio signed him to work alone. Moses Horwitz, a member of Healy’s acting troupe, accepted an offer from Columbia studios, forming a comedy team with his brother, Jerome, and Larry Feinberg to make short movies for theaters. Their popularity grew, and their third motion picture even received an Academy Award nomination.

You may not have heard of the name Ted Healy. You may not have even heard of the names of Moses Horwitz, Larry Feinberg, and Jerome Horwitz. But you perhaps recognize the names Moe, Larry, and Curly. They became known as the Three Stooges.

I want to compare the lives of Ted Healy and Moses Horwtiz, or, as we know him, Moe Howard.

Ted Healy grew up in a well-to-do family; Moe Howard grew up in the lower economic class.

Ted Healy grew up to become a tall, strapping, and handsome man; Moe Howard’s height in adulthood reached five feet four inches. He was a man without intimidation and in no way handsome.

And yet, Moe Howard and the Three Stooges have entertained audiences literally around the world–and continue to do so long past their deaths. (I can verify this personally; I have observed their popularity in South America and Pacific Asia.)

Why the contrasting outcomes? What was the difference between Ted Healy and Moe Howard? If it could be boiled down to one term, it would be self-control. Ted Healy had everything he needed to succeed in life except for one vital ingredient: self-control.

Moe Howard had very little going for him in life except one thing: self-control. Moses Horwitz, Moe Howard, was the faithful husband of one wife, the faithful steward of his physical body, and the dedicated actor to his craft. This is a big reason millions have enjoyed his performances for over ninety years.

If you focus on one habit to cultivate, consider self-control.