Oh, boy! We sure hate the word “discipline”!
It connotes images from those movies we have all seen about soldiers in boot camp. Way too much work.
It connotes images of inflexibility, and we want to be flexible and spontaneous.
It connotes images for each of us where we suffered the rules and outrages of parents or older siblings.
It connotes so many things to so many of us, and mostly the things we think of are either not friendly, not fun, seem like hard work, are tough or are just down right difficult.
Welcome to real life. All of the above is not true.
I am here to tell you all those things noted above are far from the truth. Yes, it takes some effort to establish and follow some form of discipline. But it does not have to be tough, hard, difficult or not fun. Yes, it takes time to set up a set of disciplines and structures. But, it is possible.
In fact, following a meaningful form of discipline can be, I prefer to say “is”, the foundation for easy success. Better yet, think of it as absolutely necessary for any form of any success.
How can this be? Let’s keep it simple. All of us who are even moderately successful follow a certain number of routine disciplines. What might these be?
Let’s make some assumptions:
You work day shift, have a good attendance record, are in good health, eat regularly, and meet your deadlines at work.
So, what are your simple disciplines? We can name any number based on the simple assumptions noted above, some of which are:
– You get up in the morning at a specific time allowing you to get to work on time.
– You arrive at work at or before the starting hour.
– You eat one or more meals a day, such as breakfast in the morning, lunch at midday and dinner in the evening.
– You understand what is expected of you at work.
– You spend some time planning your day, allowing you allowing you to meet your deadlines.
Based on our assumptions, and, in addition to the simple disciplines noted above, there are probably more disciplines in play than these, but you get the idea. Look at the list, and you will see that disciplines are not complex. What makes them disciplines is that you follow them, regularly, routinely, intentionally. You know that each discipline is linked to a meaningful outcome.
So, in addition to those listed above, the key question is, what can you do to extend your disciplines? Since you already engage in simple disciplines, it should be easy enough to extend them.
Discipline provides structure so you can properly plan and deliver. If you had to make up on the spot each day how you were to spend each moment of the day, from the moment you waken to the time you go to bed, you would go crazy. You don’t do that. You use a structure. You can more easily modify the structure than build a new one each day. This is what discipline means for us.
Use discipline to form a framework that guides what you do, what your team delivers. Modify it as needed. Bottom line right here: extend your current disciplines. Push them. This is growth.
Think of all the little pieces we deal with each day, from how we answer the phone to our office hours to product quality to delivery schedules to product availability to customer service standards. All these things are part of disciplines. Broaden your thinking now.
Take some time and think beyond what you currently do. What is not disciplined that could be? Think of those things that would improve how you and your team work, deliver service and interact with customers.
The examples mentioned above are not tough, not difficult and not hard to do. It merely requires a commitment to following through. In fact, follow through itself is a discipline.
Having, using and following appropriate disciplines is all about driving success.
List out some current disciplines in your personal life.
List out some current disciplines in your work life.
Be critical. Which of these disciplines help you and which don’t help at all? Can you get rid of the ones that don’t help?
What new and helpful disciplines can you add?