How to become more disciplined
Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.(1)
As a boy, before the age of 12, I recall never ever wanting to perform in a pleasing manner when it came to doing schoolwork. My work was scratchy, scrappy and plain ugly. The only thing I was ever interested in doing after school was to kick around a soccer ball. As soon as I’d arrive home after school I’d grab something to eat and head off to one of my mate’s place. There I would stay for the rest of the afternoon. Homework was rarely done, or if it was ever done, was done in a rush.
One of my memories of my schoolwork to that point was cramming for an assignment on Sunday afternoon for a Monday morning delivery. Another was peeking over the shoulder of a more intelligent student during a test to see if I could gain some extra marks without the use of my own brainpower.
In Year 6, where I spent two years of my life, yes I repeated that year, all that was important to me was to have the best looking girlfriend and to conquer the longest kiss while the rest of the class looked on in the class storeroom.
I was elected School Captain in my second year of Year 6. For what reason I don’t know. It certainly wasn’t the teacher’s vote, but rather the enviable kids of this cool and undisciplined kid in their year.
But then it was time to attend Secondary school. For the first year there I landed in the B class, and seeing that it went from A to F I was feeling pretty cocky. I’d got by on a wish and a prayer up to that point of my educational life and so I decided that by doing the same as I had done before I would cruise through the rest of my education. WRONG.
At the end of that year I faced the humiliation of delegation in a number of my main subjects, and that meant I was headed straight into the C class.
FAILURE WAS MY WAKE UP CALL, I suddenly came to the realization that ‘good enough’ was not going to be ‘good enough’ any more.
And on coming to that realization, my attitude towards education changed dramatically. In Mathematics that year I topped my year, beating nearly 200 students, and was immediately put up into the A class. The same happened in English. And in all my other subjects, in my third year of secondary school, I was placed into the A classes. For the rest of my schooling that is where I stayed.
I was not necessarily the most intelligent of my class, but I was one of the hardest workers. I strove to be the very best that I could be. It was if a transfusion of excellence had been plunged into my veins. For the old Peter Sinclair who had accepted mediocrity in everything he did had overnight been transformed into the new Peter Sinclair who would only accept excellence in everything that he touched.
This is what I have learnt:
If you’re going to do something, do it well.(2) Whatever you do, make sure that you do it with ‘icing on the top’. Go the extra mile and always give a little more. Do what others don’t expect. Always provide an element of surprise. The difference between good and great is a little extra effort. An extraordinary person is an ordinary person who does just that little bit extra. Be faithful and reliable over a few things and then watch your responsibility and abilities grow.
And if you don’t like what you’re doing, either change your attitude or change what you’re doing.
DISCIPLINE IS THE FOUNDATION OF EXCELLENCE
how to become disciplined?
Amidst my disastrous educational start in this world, there was one thing that did teach me the art of discipline. When I was only six years of age my mother decided that she wanted to learn the piano and so at the same time she decided that I was to learn the piano as well. That in itself required the act of practice five days a week with a weekly analysis of my efforts by another teacher on one of those days.
So while my other academic studies were waylaid, I was up early every morning and at the piano with my daily practice. This instilled within me the art of discipline, which I have in the ensuing years translated over and into my business life and into the writing of books.
And there is one thing that I have learnt and it is this: that no matter how gifted you may be, ‘your gifts will never reach their maximum potential without the application of self-discipline’.
John C. Maxwell, in his book Leadership 101 provides us with three ways in which this self-discipline can be developed, and they are: challenge your excuses, remove rewards until the job is done and stay focused on results.
CHALLENGE YOUR EXCUSES
Excuses are the shovels with which you build your own grave. The buck must stop with you and me. If we make a mistake, we need to claim ownership of that mistake and learn from the failure. We must analyze it and find out how never to repeat it again.
Your excuse for why you can’t exercise daily needs to be addressed eyeball to eyeball. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself to stop lying to yourself. There is no reason why you shouldn’t exercise daily and then find a way that suits your lifestyle and stick with it.
REMOVE REWARDS UNTIL THE JOB IS DONE
Here’s a delightful story that John C. Maxwell shares.
‘An older couple had been at a campground for a couple of days when a family arrived at the site next to them.(3) As soon as their sport-utility vehicle came to a stop, they couple and their three kids piled out. One child hurriedly unloaded ice chests, backpacks, and other items while the other two quickly put up tents.(4) The site was ready in fifteen minutes.
The older couple was amazed. “You folks sure do work great together,” the elderly gentleman told the dad admiringly.
“You just need a system,” replied the dad. “Nobody goes to the bathroom until camp’s set up.(5)’
So make certain you eat the ice cream after your vegetables and not before.
STAY FOCUSED ON RESULTS
Author H. Jackson Brown Jr. wrote, ‘Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.(6)’
So if you are busy, busy, busy and yet are not getting the results that you would expect from such activity, maybe it’s time that you stopped and asked yourself some of the following questions:
- How much time have I given to daily disciplined activities this past week?
- What did I do this past week to develop myself professionally?
- How much daily exercise did I do this past week?
- How much money did I save or invest this past week?
- How much television have I watched this week?
If you are not satisfied with the answers that you are giving yourself right now, then it’s time to step up to living an excellent life. Add a little sprinkle of self-discipline into the recipe of your life and watch the excellence gauge rise to a far more acceptable level.
Motivational Memo: A life autographed with excellence will excel.