Here is the greatest value of discipline: self-worth. Many people who are teaching self-esteem these days don’t connect it to discipline. But once we sense the least lack of discipline within ourselves, it starts to erode our psyche. One of the greatest temptations is just to ease up a little bit. Instead of doing your best, you allow yourself to do just a little less than your best. Sure enough, you’ve started in the slightest way to decrease your sense of self-worth. Respect must be earned.
Affirmations are powerful, but affirmations not backed-up by action are the beginning of self-dilution. It isn’t enough to say I will work hard each day to achieve my goal. Unless that affirmation is backed-up by consistent, disciplined action, you’re not going to develop self-esteem. Talk is cheap. Show me how you spend your time, and I’ll tell you your real values. It isn’t what you say, it is what you do. If you want to know someone’s values, observe their daily habits. Our own true values can be detected in the same way. If you think that your everyday actions don’t reflect your values, I would argue that you are mistaken. Your actions always reflect your values. Value is never produced through words and wishes. We create value through labor. It is easy to find people that talk a big game, it is much harder to find people that play a big game. Discipline is what separates successful people from unsuccessful people.
Discipline enables us to translate our desires into action. The best time to begin is when your motivation is peaked. The key is to start immediately. If you feel strongly about getting fit, begin by taking a walk or dropping down and doing some push-ups. Say to yourself, “I WILL” do some type of exercise every day “UNTIL” I am fit. Planning is a powerful tool, but no one can merely plan their way to success. Success is gained one small win at a time. Dream big, start small, begin immediately, and build momentum. Whatever your goal is, building momentum is the key. You want to get into a rhythm. Once you have achieved a daily rhythm of disciplined action, your life will begin to change. Before anyone sees the visible results, you’ll experience a renewed feeling of self-worth. Your self-esteem and confidence will go through the roof. Getting up early to workout gives you a psychological edge. It will equip you to attack each day with a higher level of energy and confidence.
The daily disciplines start a whole new life process. Consistency is the key. Never let good be the enemy of great. Never let what you cannot do, stop you from doing what you can do. If you cannot work out for 30-minutes, do what you can. A short, intense workout is better than a missed workout. The Everyday Method of habit formation makes it easier to build momentum. The problem with inconsistency is that it can become a bad habit that erodes your self-worth. If you say one missed workout isn’t a big deal, you’d be correct, but the problem is that one missed workout leads to another, and soon you have developed a pattern of inconsistency.
We must remain forever vigilant and stand guard. Neglect starts as an infection and becomes a disease. Everything matters. How we do anything is how we will do anything. Discipline and excellence are habits. The smallest neglect repeated becomes a bad habit. The longer we allow the behavior to persist, the deeper its roots will grow.
When we are hungry, tired, angry, discouraged, or stressed out, that is when we are most likely to give in to weakness. These are the times when our willpower is most likely to fail us. These are the moments when you need to exercise self-discipline. The more you shape your environment, the less willpower you’ll need. If there is no ice cream in the freezer, you won’t need any willpower to stay the course. The more committed you are to your goal, the less willpower you’ll need because you’ll shape your environment to reduce temptation and promote the daily disciplines.
Everyone feels the urge to ease up or quit. Even star athletes. That is why the Nike logo “Just Do It” is so powerful. It acknowledges our need to push ourselves. It recognizes that we will not always be motivated to work and to train. Discipline is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done, especially when we aren’t excited to do it. Anyone can work hard when they are motivated, but to be consistent, we must push ourselves to work hard when we aren’t motivated. We want to cultivate motivation by staying connected to our goals, but we cannot rely solely on motivation to pull us through. We must develop self-discipline.
Self-discipline is our ability to stay committed to a decision long after the spirit in which that decision was made is gone. Laziness is normal. We all need motivation and discipline to do more than what we are obligated to do. We all work a job. It is usually easy to keep a job, but it takes motivation and discipline to work hard enough to earn a promotion. That level of effort requires us to push harder than is comfortable consistently. Through grit and determination, we can push ourselves to new levels of performance.
No one is born with exceptional talent. We all start out at different levels of ability, but we are all capable of next-level performance. Exceptional skill is developed through consistent, disciplined practice. It is easy to attribute someone’s phenomenal ability to innate talent, but that’s rarely the case. Our greatest strength as human beings is our ability to transform ourselves. When we are born, we cannot even lift our heads, but through time and effort can display amazing skills. “Genius often really is just persistence in disguise.” -Ryan Holiday. “
The problem with even a little bit of neglect is that it starts as an infection. If you don’t take care of it, it becomes a disease. One neglect leads to another. Worst of all, when neglect starts, it diminishes our self-worth. Success and failure aren’t overnight processes. Anyone that has gained 20 pounds didn’t do it overnight. It wasn’t one wrong decision that produced the weight gain. It was a pattern of bad choices. Everything matters, because most of our behaviors are habitual. Most of our days follow a familiar pattern. Examine your daily habits. Identify any that are eroding your self-worth, and then replace them.
It is simple, but it isn’t easy. It begins by making a genuine commitment and acting immediately. If you want to make a change in your life, do something right now! Start with the smallest discipline that corresponds to your philosophy. Make a commitment to yourself. Say, “I will discipline myself to take daily action so that in the years ahead I can celebrate my success.” The most potent decisions are made when our emotions are high. These are the moments when we say, NO MORE. Identify ONE Bad Habit, Interrupt and Replace It.
They are the moments when we finally decide enough is enough. This is unacceptable. I am not going to tolerate it anymore. I am better than this. I deserve better than this. The people in my life deserve better than what I am giving them. The higher our emotional peak, the greater our commitment will be to take immediate and massive action. Of course, that is just the beginning, what do you do when the emotion has faded.
Discipline is necessary to force ourselves to do the things we don’t want to do. It is an absolute necessity if we’re going to achieve success. Self-discipline is the most potent form of discipline. A parent, coach, or drill sergeant can push you to do what you should, but what will you do when they aren’t there to force you? Self-discipline is required for you to do what you should do, even when no one is watching. Self-discipline is the foundation upon which all good habits are built upon. Self-discipline is the ability to do what you know you should when temptation is whispering in your ear. Discipline is like courage. When we act courageously, it doesn’t mean we didn’t feel fear, it means we took brave action in the face of fear.
Discipline doesn’t mean the absence of weakness or temptation; discipline means you chose to ignore the temptation and do what needs to be done; what must get done. Exercising discipline is no different than the exercise of courage. We don’t act bravely because we are brave, we are brave because we have acted bravely. First, we form habits, then they form our character. We judge ourselves the same way everyone else judges us, by our behavior. This is the reason that self-esteem is inseparably linked to self-worth. There are other benefits to developing self-discipline.
When we habitually take disciplined action, temptation begins to lose its hold on us. We become a machine. We become a disciplined person that doesn’t tolerate weakness. More importantly, we become a person that knows their own self-worth. You’ll respect yourself because you’ll have earned that respect, one little discipline at a time. Discipline is your best friend. The things that success hands us isn’t nearly as rewarding as the person that success forces us to become.
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