As you consider the concept of discipline, I believe there are two important questions to address:
- Do I need more of it?
- Do I want more of it?
What Do I Mean by Discipline?
Before addressing those first two questions, let’s determine: What does it really mean?
The Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary offers three flavors for the word.
- control that is gained by requiring that rules or orders be obeyed and punishing bad behavior
- a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders
- behavior that is judged by how well it follows a set of rules or orders
Reading these three can give you a sense of military rigor. Perhaps a parochial school flashback. Then add thoughts of punishment, strict obedience and judgement.
Raise your hand if you want more of that?
We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. So most things in those definitions can be viewed as borderline un-American.
With our work, we need at least a minimal level of order. But we are driven to do our best work when we have autonomy.
What’s The Magic Word?
Is is possible for us to actually want more discipline? Let me frame it another way. What if we modified it by adding the word “self“? Self Discipline. Can you feel the difference?
I’ll now ask:
What happens when you lack self-discipline?
My answer: Not Enough
If you’re not happy with “not enough”, what might be missing? This graphic offers some synonyms.
Why would you want more of these?
The Paradox of Discipline
We want our freedom and autonomy. And we want to achieve great things. To do so, you need to understand that self discipline is the means to that end. Use this simple, counter-intuitive equation to apply the idea:
Discipline = Freedom
- On a 1 to 10 scale, how would you rate your current level of self discipline?
- Where do you want it to be?
- What needs to change to make that a reality?
- How would you benefit?