This might sound like a no-brainer, but I have met many adults, parents and students in the US who don’t seem to understand what discipline actually means, and why we need it to be truly successful.
In much of my work I emphasize the steps needed for each of us to become a successful leader. And though some people are afraid of being leaders, but they forget that they don’t have to be meeting people for those other people to say “I want to follow that example”, so please do accept that when you achieve success you will be a leader, for yourself, for friends and family, and/or for those that hear or read about you. Discipline is a key element for lasting success, and so is also a key element for lasting leadership.
For the record, I don’t see winning the lottery as a great success, except if you are using the lottery to fuel and build something larger. Luck is nice, but true Success is reaching your goals and knowing that you can do it again if you have to. That is where discipline comes in: discipline is the ability to do what you plannet to do, what you committed to do, and what you need to do to reach your goals. Lack of discipline, on the other hand means that you are easily made a victim of other people’s decisions, since you do not know how to follow through your own objectives.
Discipline might not really fun at the beginning, because it is much easier to do what your friends want to do rather than do what you need to do. So there are children (young and old) who will put aside work or chores every time they can in order to play or distract themselves, though they later pay the consequences. In my case, the consequences were pretty serious since my parents were very strict, so I learned to do my chores and do my work first, and then have fun while others were rushing to finish up homework, chores or whatever. Books taught me to be grateful for what I had and to plan for achieving more, and I studied to learn new skills and ways of solving problems, testing different strategies for success since my success – and yours- is not necessarily that of our family or friends. Many of us quickly learn that family and friends often criticize our reading and working to achieve our goals, instead of enjoying their company and games. Well, for the record, my Facebook page is proof at all the fun I have and how many fun people I know, of all ages! Discipline lets me have it all!
Discipline involves planning what you are going to do in the day, and doing it (following through). And, when surprises come up, or when you have an emergency, you can turn to your “Plan B” alternative to follow, and discipline lets you continue to work on your success!
This leads to the next important step in discipline: if it isn’t part of your plan, your goals, then you are simply following orders or instructions, and it isn’t true discipline. Oh, many parents and authorities will insist on “discipline”, and will “discipline” the errant individual, which actually means punishing the person, but they see discipline as the ability to follow orders or instructions, and not the ability to do what has been planned and agreed to. In fact, self-motivation, initiative, and persistence are true components of discipline, while mindless obedience is simply a sign of a victim mentality, where decisions are not self-determined.
Each goal requires its own discipline, habits and skills.
So, which is the discipline that leads us to success? In general, it is simply the practice of those decisions, skills and actions that move us closer to our goals and to becoming the person we want to become. If we want to be a sports practitioner, our discipline will include daily exercises and working with a coach that can help us improve our game or abilities. If we want to be great physicists, we have to study every day and learn how that science is evolving as we achieve mastery. If we want to be great parents, we have to learn the skills needed to raise a child effectively and to build the community that will support the child as it develops. So each life purpose and goal has its related discipline, and it is up to us to discover it.
In my case, though I am trained in various professions, as a professional coach, I focus on listening to the person’s desires and basic beliefs so I may ask appropriate questions that may lead to their finding great answers, action plans, and opportunities. That discipline means I won’t interrupt the person with advice or information, instructions or conclusions about what the person is saying. As an expert consultant or when I manage an organization, I don’t listen as much and focus more on getting the data needed to make a good decision.
So, is discipline necessary for success? Most definitely yes, unless you measure success in a superficial and fleeting manner. Finding the correct discipline is critical, and I do suggest studying and consulting with people who have already reached the goals you are striving for, so that you may choose intelligently. Are there basic disciplines that most successful leaders follow? Yes, and they include starting the day early, taking care of their body, reading and studing, and making informed decisions. Please note that there are no negatives or “forbidden” concepts in the few suggestions I listed: Your life, and your success and your disciplines are a product of your decisions. So choose wisely, so we may celebrate your success!
Manny Perez, MPA, CAMS, Professional Coach dedicated to Success