This week I’ll be blogging a series on self-discipline. New posts on this topic will appear every day Mon-Fri. I’ve also added a new self-discipline category.
I’ve already written about 20 pages on self-discipline for my upcoming book, including what it is and how to develop it. I’ll share some of those ideas in this series, focusing on what I call the five pillars of self-discipline.
The Five Pillars of Self-Discipline
The five pillars of self-discipline are: Acceptance, Willpower, Hard Work, Industry, and Persistence. If you take the first letter of each word, you get the acronym “A WHIP” — a convenient way to remember them, since many people associate self-discipline with whipping themselves into shape.
Each day of the series, I’ll explore one of these pillars, explaining why it’s important and how to develop it. But first a general overview….
What Is Self-Discipline?
Self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state.
Imagine what you could accomplish if you could simply get yourself to follow through on your best intentions no matter what. Picture yourself saying to your body, “You’re overweight. Lose 20 pounds.” Without self-discipline that intention won’t become manifest. But with sufficient self-discipline, it’s a done deal. The pinnacle of self-discipline is when you reach the point that when you make a conscious decision, it’s virtually guaranteed you’ll follow through on it.
Self-discipline is one of many personal development tools available to you. Of course it is not a panacea. Nevertheless, the problems which self-discipline can solve are important, and while there are other ways to solve these problems, self-discipline absolutely shreds them. Self-discipline can empower you to overcome any addiction or lose any amount of weight. It can wipe out procrastination, disorder, and ignorance. Within the domain of problems it can solve, self-discipline is simply unmatched. Moreover, it becomes a powerful teammate when combined with other tools like passion, goal-setting, and planning. (Puteti citi mai departe dand click aici)
Alte citate extrase: Being healthy is hard work. Finding and maintaining a successful relationship is hard work. Raising kids is hard work. Getting organized is hard work. Setting goals, making plans to achieve them, and staying on track is hard work.
To keep your muscles strong or your mind sharp, you need to challenge them. To do only what’s easy will lead to physical and mental flabbiness and very mediocre results, followed by a great deal of time and effort spent justifying why such flabbiness is OK, instead of stepping up and taking on some real challenges.
Tackling challenges builds character, just as lifting weights builds muscle. To avoid challenge is to abandon one’s character development.
Now it’s natural that we’ll tend to avoid what’s painful, so if we see challenge as purely painful, we’ll surely avoid it. But in so doing, we’re avoiding some very important character development, which by its very nature is often tremendously challenging. So we must learn to fall in love with challenge instead of fearing it, just as a bodybuilder can learn to love the pain of doing “one more rep” that tears down muscle fibers, allowing them to grow stronger. If you avoid the pain, you miss out on the growth. This is true both for building muscles and for building character.
You become accustomed to spending more time outside your comfort zone. Hard work is something you look forward to because you know that it will lead to tremendous growth. And you eventually develop the maturity and responsibility to understand that certain goals will never just flow into your life; they’ll only happen if you act as the driving force to bring them to fruition.
If you want to achieve some really big and interesting goals, you have to learn to fall in love with hard work. Hard work makes the difference. It’s what separates the children from the mature adults. You can keep living as a child and desperately hoping that life will always be easy, but then you’ll be stuck in a child-like world, working on other people’s goals instead of your own, waiting for opportunities to come to you instead of creating your own, and doing work that in the grand scheme of this world just isn’t important.When you learn to embrace hard work instead of running from it, you gain the ability to execute on your big goals, no matter what it takes to achieve them.
You blast through obstacles that stop others who have less resolve. But what is it that gets you to this point? What gets you to embrace hard work?
Purpose.When you live for a strong purpose, then hard work isn’t an option. It’s a necessity. If your life has no real purpose, then you can avoid hard work, and it won’t matter because you’ve decided that your life itself doesn’t matter anyway. So who cares if you work hard or take the easy road? But if you’ve chosen a significant purpose for your life, it’s going to require hard work to get there — any meaningful purpose will require hard work.
You have to admit to yourself then that the only way this purpose is going to be fulfilled is if you embrace hard work. And this is what takes you beyond fear and ego, beyond the sniveling little child who thinks that hard work is something to run away from. When you become driven by a purpose greater than yourself, you embrace hard work out of necessity. That child gets replaced by a mature adult who assumes responsibility for getting the job done, knowing that without total commitment and lots of hard work, it’s never going to happen.
Show me a person who avoids hard work, and I’ll show you someone who hasn’t found their purpose yet. Because anyone who knows their purpose will embrace hard work. They’ll pay the price willingly.
If you want to make a difference in the world, then hard work is the price. There are no shortcuts.
Purpose and hard work are buddies. Purpose is the why. Hard work is the how. Purpose is what turns labor into labor of love. It transmutes the pain of hard work into the higher level pleasure of dedication, commitment, resolve, and passion. It turns pain into strength, eventually to the point where you don’t notice the pain as much as you enjoy the strength.
Self-discipline requires that you develop the capacity to put in the time where it’s needed. A lot of messes are created when we refuse to put in the time to do what needs to be done — and to do it correctly. Such messes range from a messy desk or cluttered email inbox all the way down to an Enron or Worldcom. Big mess or small mess — take your pick. Either way a significant contributing factor is the refusal to do what needs to be done.
How many problems do you have on your to do list right now that can be solved with the simple application of industry? Sometimes you don’t need to be particularly creative or clever about it — a brute force solution will do. But it’s easy to get stuck in a pattern of wishing that a brute force solution wasn’t necessary. It’s tedious. It’s boring. It’s not that important anyway. And yet it still needs to be done.
Disciplining yourself to be industrious allows you to squeeze more value out of your time. Time is a constant, but your personal productivity is not. Some people will use the hours of their day far more efficiently than others.
Despite all the technology and gadgets we have available that can potentially make us more efficient, your personal productivity is still your greatest bottleneck. Don’t look to technology to make you more productive. If you don’t consider yourself productive without technology, you won’t be productive with it — it will only serve to mask your bad habits. But if you’re already industrious without technology, it can help you become even more so. Think of technology as a force multiplier — it multiplies what you already are.
Persistence is the ability to maintain action regardless of your feelings. You press on even when you feel like quitting.
When you work on any big goal, your motivation will wax and wane like waves hitting the shore. Sometimes you’ll feel motivated; sometimes you won’t. But it’s not your motivation that will produce results — it’s your action. Persistence allows you to keep taking action even when you don’t feel motivated to do so, and therefore you keep accumulating results.
If you’re growing at all as a human being, then you’re going to be a different person each year than you were the previous year. And if you consciously pursue personal development, then the changes will often be dramatic and rapid.
In order to make room for new goals, we have to delete or complete old ones.
Persistence of action comes from persistence of vision. When you’re super-clear about what you want in such a way that your vision doesn’t change much, you’ll be consistent in your actions. And that consistency of action will produce consistency of results.