I admire those who have more than I do, and I revel in exercising my own. Discipline is one of the core requirements of personal development. Without it we achieve very little. However, if we have it and we use it, not only does it produce results, it is also a source of empowerment. This post looks at the simplicity, versatility and necessity of discipline. As with any ingredient of success, discipline can be practised. Anywhere. We can hone our skills wherever and whenever we want and then bring them to bear on other areas of our life. Every little helps. We can even draw on disciplined episodes from our past to help us increase the amount of control we apply in the present, saying to ourselves: ‘I did it then, so I can do it now’.
Here’s an example of how easy it can be: one client was ten minutes late to our second conversation – a phone call – because he got distracted. I told him that’s all I need to know to predict that he will not meet his latest deadline. (Paradoxically, when he saw this for himself, his chance of success increased immediately, because observation can be enough to effect change.) I told him he can practise discipline in every area of his life. Being on time for our meetings, for example, will help him apply himself to his work. He has been punctual with every call since and is seeing how valuable discipline is for his work and his life.
It gives a feeling of empowerment when practised. Nearly every morning I have to force myself to do my daily exercises. But every time I do, I feel better for having done them. It’s not just the physical benefits, or the sense of accomplishment before breakfast. There is also the satisfaction of the discipline itself. I keep a log, which serves as a record of my achievement, as well as providing the motivation to continue. Knowing and being able to see that I have done 117 days in a row made it very easy this morning to complete day 118. It’s the highpoint of a project I began over two years ago, which seemed in doubt when I wrote the post ‘Words of Encouragement‘ in December 2011.
In addition, my workout means my discipline is being trained every day. Honed and ready for when I need it most. There is also an element of solidarity with my clients because, as with every other aspect of the work I do, how can I ask clients to do something I am not willing to do myself? Luckily, we are more disciplined than we realise. Take one day and look closely at how disciplined you are. Write down every example. Your first entry is likely to be: Got up with the alarm. It’s that simple. As you go through your day, notice how often you apply it and how the mere act of observing your discipline awakens a curious desire to practise it more. Consider also how much you achieve because of it; and how difficult your life would be without it.