I was talking with one of my workmates today about my impending move to semi-retirement (the state where you play more than you work). I was sharing how weird it was to have worked for 44 years, and be down to the final 7 days. We shared a little more about what I might do, and how fortunate I was. As we looked around the operations floor I thought about who would be in position to retire when the time came, and what it might take for them to get there.
I’ve written about discipline before, but never quite from the perspective of my 44-year work history. Hopefully, this journey will have some ‘nuggets’ for you.
I’ve been publishing my thoughts on leadership and life for over 3 1/2 years. Thanks to those of you who take the time to read what I write, and thanks to those of you who offer feedback, and provide encouragement and guidance. As I move on to the next phase of my life, writing will continue to be one of the key things that I do.
Do your best work and be well.
Discipline in Leadership and Life
It would be interesting to sit around with a group of my friends and family and talk about the role discipline had in our lives. I think you would see a wide variety of things emerge. For those that became leaders, some would say that discipline allowed them to take advantage of many opportunities that opened the door to them becoming leaders. Others would have spent time as athletes and indicate how discipline was key in their ability to get better at their chosen sport(s). Others might point to being a good student and how they had to give up certain things to achieve more in the classroom. Still others might look to another aspect of their early life and the choices they made; how those choices led to certain doors opening and certain opportunities.
Discipline is not something you have or don’t have; nor is it something you’re born with. It is a decision you make to do something and see it through to completion, or a decision to do some things consistently or not to do some things. Exercising discipline is a choice. I’m not always sure where it ‘comes from.’ I am sure that part of its genesis comes because we want something different and we recognize that we will need to exercise discipline to get there. The ‘something different’ spans the gamut of our lives – how we care for ourselves, how we approach our work in school, our chores, learning something new we want to master, athletics, our personal development, how we manage our time, our work, even our relationships. For me, discipline is the glue, what I use when exercising one choice over another (at least in the case where I want to do something else, but know that it won’t get me what I want).
In the work world, the average worker confesses to wasting 2.09 hours out of an eight-hour day. This amounts to $759 billion that employers pay for and never get. I won’t suggest that it is all about discipline, but it is connected to our primary focus in life, or what we want. If we don’t know what we want, any road will take us there. Discipline is the vehicle, the driving force, that helps us to achieve what we want. At every juncture in my life where I ‘went off course’ from my stated want, discipline was the thing that brought me back on course.
My belief is that we are not always ‘awake’ and ‘aware’ in life. During these times of ‘non-awareness’ we can make choices that are not about who we want to be or getting us what we want. Then, when we come back to ‘awareness’, we understand the value of discipline as a choice in helping us get back, and remain on course for longer periods.
Most often, I see that the people with the greatest focus to their lives are also the people who exercise the greatest discipline. They tend to be achieving more and experiencing greater happiness and contentment in their lives. I believe there is a direct correlation to the discipline I exert in life, and the life that I experience as a result. It’s not complex, just difficult.
As you reflect on your journey, what role does discipline play? Is it helping you get more of what you want? If you see a gap between what you are getting, and what you want, how might discipline help you close the gap?
To a better you.
Coaching is often the best way to help you clarify how to get more of what you want.
Of Special Interest: The 5 habits of highly-disciplined people https://www.fastcompany.com/3049224/5-habits-of-highly-disciplined-people