Several years ago, I had the good fortune to be invited to join an informal group of people in my industry who meet casually through a weekly conference call and use the opportunity to share ideas, seek solutions to challenges and reach common understanding on best practices.
Our group is 18 coaches strong and on any given week there are about 10 of us chatting away. Never once have I hung up the phone without having gained a new nugget of insight and wisdom.
I am the only Canadian in the group. My colleagues are all US-based and my company is a tiny fraction the size of the second smallest in the group. The largest company represented in the group is a 9-person consultancy with annual revenues exceeding $50 million.
To me it is a privilege to be part of this group and I feel blessed to have access to the minds of people who have achieved levels of success far beyond anything I have ever imagined. It is like having private access to the very best coaches on the planet and while it has often been said that we are all equals on these calls, I have long felt that I am merely a student in the presence of 17 mentors.
Over the years our conversations have centered on many different topics and we have, collectively, tackled some very challenging situations that some of our clients have found themselves in. There is one topic – in fact, one word – that keeps coming back to its place on the top of the list as being the uncontested key attribute essential to success in any endeavor.
And that word – that magical, miracle word is discipline.
If asked what the singular, most important secret to success they insist every client master, each of my 17 phone buddies would unhesitatingly tell you that discipline supersedes knowledge, precedes skill and outperforms intellect every time.
They will boldly tell you success without discipline does not exist and discipline without success is almost impossible.
Dictionary.com defines discipline this way:
training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.
activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training: A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer.
punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.: the harsh discipline of poverty.
verb (used with object), dis·ci·plined, dis·ci·plin·ing.
to train by instruction and exercise; drill.
to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.
to punish or penalize in order to train and control; correct; chastise.
I have my own definition which perfectly matches the definitions used by my colleagues.
Discipline means doing what you know you should be doing when you just don’t feel like it or not doing what you know you shouldn’t be doing when you really feel like doing it.
Even When You Don’t Want To
Discipline means going to the gym when every cell in your body is aching with fatigue and all you want to do is collapse on your couch and devour a bag of potato chips while watching your favourite TV show.
And discipline also means choosing a salad when the smell of pizza has ignited every taste bud you possess, and the pizza menu choices leave you salivating with desire.
Discipline equals mastery over your emotions and drives you to do what you know you should do when your emotions are begging you to do otherwise.
Discipline is the willingness to endure present pain in exchange for potential future pleasure. It is the relentless pursuit of a future prize and the undentable conviction that obstacles, challenges and barriers never present a valid reason for taking our eyes off the prize.
Deep Down You Know It
Almost every story of a goal not reached can be traced back to an example of someone not finishing what they started and each of my colleagues has an abundance of sad stories about people who chose to not do what they knew they should be doing and instead, did what they knew they shouldn’t be doing.
And no good ever has ever come from ignoring the rules of discipline.
Discipline is number one on their list of necessities but there are others. Focus is a close second and, perhaps, that will be our topic for next week’s chat.
Till we read again.