If there is one magic word that stands out above all the rest, it is discipline.
Discipline is the bridge between thought and accomplishment, between inspiration and achievement, between necessity and productivity. Remember, all good things are located upstream from us. The passing of time takes us adrift, and drifting only brings us the negative, the disappointment, and the failure.
“Failure is not a cataclysmic event. It is not generally the result of one major incident, but rather of a long list of accumulated little failings.”Jim Rohn philosophizes. If your goal requires that you write ten letters today and you write only three, you are down seven letters. If your plan calls for saving fifty cedis today and you save none, you are down fifty cedis.
The danger is looking at an undisciplined day and concluding that no great harm has been done. But add up these days to make a year—and then add up those years to make a lifetime—and it will become apparent how repeating today’s small failures can easily turn your life into a major disaster.
Success, on the other hand, is just the same process in reverse. If you plan to make ten calls and you end the day having made fifteen, you are up five calls. You can see what a massive difference this sort of thing could make in a year; and what wealth and accomplishment await over a lifetime.
“Discipline is like a set of magic keys that can unlock all the doors of wealth, happiness, culture, high self-esteem, pride, joy, accomplishment, satisfaction, and success.”
The first key to discipline is awareness of the need for and value of discipline, especially the discipline to make the necessary changes. What will it take? What must I do and what must I become to get all I want from life?
The second key is willingness. More than that, it is the eagerness to maintain your new discipline deliberately, wisely, and consistently.
The third key to discipline is the commitment to master the circumstances of your daily life—to see and harness the opportunities to make something of the good as well as that which comes in the guise of misfortune.
Discipline does many things, but most important of all is what it does for your mindset—it makes you feel better about yourself. Even the smallest discipline can have an incredible effect on your attitude. And the good feeling you get—that surging feeling of self-worth that comes from starting a new discipline—is almost as good as the feeling that comes from the accomplishment the discipline brings.
A new discipline immediately alters your life direction. You do not change destinations immediately—that is yet to come—but you can change direction immediately, and direction is very important.
Discipline cooperates with nature. Everything strives. It is a common life function. How tall will a tree grow? As tall as it can. Everything strives to become all it can possibly be. And that is what discipline is all about: striving to fulfill our natural potential, to become all that we can be.
“The human will in action—driven by inspiration, enticed by desire, tempered by reason, guided by intelligence—can bring you to that high and lofty place called the good life.” Rohn believes discipline attracts opportunity, which is always attracted to ambition and skill in action. Discipline taps the unlimited power of commitment.
“Discipline: those unique steps of intelligent thought and activity that put a lid on temper and a faucet on courtesy; that develops the positive and control the negative; that encourage success and deter failure; that shape lifestyle and control frustration; that enhance health and curb sickness; that promote happiness and manage sadness.”
A SPIRAL OF ACHIEVEMENT
Every day in a thousand different ways, we are trying to improve ourselves by learning how to do things. We spend a lifetime gathering knowledge—in classrooms, in textbooks, in experiences. And if knowledge is power, if knowledge is the forerunner to success, why do we fall short of our objectives? Why, in spite of all our knowledge and collected experiences, do we find ourselves aimlessly wandering? Settling for a life of existence rather than a life of substance?
While there may be many answers to this question, the ultimate answer may be the absence of discipline in applying our knowledge. The key word is discipline, as in self-discipline.
We spend our lives gathering: gathering knowledge, gathering skills, gathering experiences. But we must also apply the knowledge, skills, and experiences we gather in the realms of life and business. We must learn to use what we have learned.
And once we have applied our knowledge, we must study the results of that process and refine our approach. Finally, by trying and observing and refining and trying again, our knowledge will inevitably produce worthy, admirable results. And with the joy and results of our efforts, we continue to fuel our ambition with the positive reinforcement of continued progress.
Very soon, we will find that “we are swept into a spiral of achievement, a vertical rise to success; and the ecstasy of that total experience makes for a life triumphant over tragedy, dullness, and mediocrity.”
But for this whole process to work for us, Rohn advises, we must first master the art of consistent self-discipline. It takes consistent self-discipline to master the arts of setting goals, time management, leadership, parenting, and relationships. If we do not make consistent self-discipline part of our daily lives, the results we seek will be sporadic and elusive.
It takes discipline to conquer the nagging voices in our minds: the fear of failure, the fear of success, the fear of poverty, the fear of a broken heart. It takes discipline to keep trying when that nagging voice within us brings up the possibility of failure.
It takes discipline to admit our errors and recognize our limitations. The voice of the human ego speaks to all of us. Sometimes, that voice tells us to magnify our value or accomplishments beyond our actual results. It leads us to exaggerate, to not be totally honest. It takes discipline to be totally honest, both with ourselves and with others.
Be certain of one thing: every exaggeration of the truth, once detected bothers, destroys our credibility. It makes all that we say and do suspect. As soon as people figure out that we tend to exaggerate, they will think we always exaggerate; and they never quite hold us in the same regard again.
It takes discipline to change a habit, because once habits are formed, they act like a giant cable, a nearly unbreakable instinct that only long-term, disciplined activity can change. “We must unweave every strand of the cable of habits, slowly and methodically, until the cable that once held us in bondage becomes nothing more than scattered strands of wire.” It takes the consistent application of a new discipline, a more desirable discipline, to overcome one which is less desirable.
It takes discipline to plan. It takes discipline to execute our plan. It takes discipline to look with full objectivity at the results of our applied plan. And it takes discipline to change either our plan or our method of executing that plan if the results are poor. It takes discipline to be firm when the world throws opinions at our feet. And it takes discipline to ponder the value of someone else’s opinion when our pride and our arrogance lead us to believe that we are the only ones with the answers.
With this consistent discipline applied to every area of our lives, we can discover untold miracles and uncover unique possibilities and opportunities.
BY CAPTAIN SAM ADDAIH RTD.