I get asked often, “What does it really take to have the discipline to succeed?” And my answer is always the same.
It’s a choice.
It’s a recognition that successful people do what unsuccessful people have not figured out how to do; or they know how to do it, but they don’t. That is discipline. Watch this video to learn about the importance of discipline, the role of purpose in discipline, and how to keep yourself accountable.
I think the thing that is important is that we see discipline as a powerful word, not a bad word, not punitive, just like we see accountability is a good word, not a punitive or negative word. We all thrive on discipline and accountability. Those two things set up to give us the life of our dreams.
So, what’s in-between? Where’s the gap? Why is there a gap?
I believe the gap exists because if you’re not clear on your purpose, discipline is really hard to conjure up. Every day when I wake up and I get the gift of another day, I feel that my job is to use that day to make a positive difference in people’s lives. When I have to look at the discipline of going on a bike ride when it feels easier to stay in bed, or the discipline of eating the right food when I’m craving dessert, or when I have to go through the discipline of making sure that I checked in with my wife and that our marriage is on track, I have to look at that because it’s that discipline that gives us the ability to make a difference, to make an impact.
When you’re clear on your purpose, you should be clear on the discipline necessary to take actions that get you closer to that purpose being lived out. It doesn’t mean that I have a perfect sense of discipline. It certainly doesn’t mean that I wake up every day and discipline is my best friend or that it’s easy. I think it’s hard, which is why it is called discipline.
Discipline. It’s this idea that I only have a couple of choices on what to do with my time, and one is to make a positive contribution to whatever the business looks like and whatever the life looks like and to have a discipline to balance those two things out. That’s important.
It’s also important to know that discipline is something that has to happen every single day, multiple times a day, in little micro-moments to give you the grand adventure of achieving a big goal or a big dream. We learned this last year from James Clear at Sales Mastery on atomic habits. We learn it every day so we feel like we’re breaking a habit. And I don’t know about you, but it’s like when you have a series of days where discipline has been your friend and you feel unstoppable, the last thing you want to do is not deploy discipline again in the next moment or the next day or the next week.
So, discipline is the motherload; and I think the more of it you have, the more of it you get, which is why it’s so powerful. I remember my first time preparing for a marathon. It was like, okay. I got to run a mile, and 26 miles seemed like way too much. But I remember the days of training, the training days leading up to my first marathon. And it was like, okay. It’s never going to be easy to run 26 miles. And the longer I don’t do the work, the prep work, the harder it’s going to be to run the 26 miles.
So, if you’ve ever done that, you realize that your training regimen gets up to a couple 20 milers in the three weeks leading up to a marathon. But for me, it was like, I’ve got to make it a mile. And then I’ve got to make it two miles. And then I’ve got to make it three. And then my training for six or seven months, it was that discipline of seeing myself cross the finish line. It didn’t matter what my time was. I just wanted to cross the finish line. I wanted to finish a marathon. And I think my first one, I came in at like 4:41, something like that.
But my point is, it started off small, just like any discipline. I can’t lose 30 pounds by having discipline tomorrow. But if I have discipline for 30 days, I can probably lose two to three or four pounds; and then the rest catches up with you. Right? Jim Rohn used to talk about how there are two big pains in life. One is the pain of discipline, and the other is the pain of regret. And I think that without discipline, we have regrets. We would like do-overs. We would like, “I wish I could,” instead of, “I’m glad I did.” That’s the kind of stuff that happens when we’re thinking about what discipline actually does.
Every single human being that has victory in life knows that behind the victory there is discipline and that discipline is not easy. If it were easy, everybody would be happy. Everybody would be healthy. Everybody would be perfect. And that’s why it’s such a beautiful choice that we get to choose discipline. So, when you’re clear on your purpose, discipline is easy. If you’re not clear on your purpose, discipline is hard. Discipline in micro moments every single day, doing one thing you don’t feel like doing but doing it anyway, is one of those ways to begin to have the micro victories that come from discipline.
When you’re able to stitch together five days, six days, seven days of eating the right way; five, six, seven days of working out the right way; five, six, seven days of making the right kinds of sales calls, discipline becomes your friend. And every time you look in the mirror when you have discipline and you’ve executed on discipline, you feel good about yourself.
Well, what do people who feel good about themselves do? They go for more. They go for more. And the discipline is natural because the endorphins and the oxytocin and the serotonin and the dopamine are all happy juices. That’s what happens.
So, my comment to you and what I’d really like for you to understand is that accountability which leads to discipline involves you being clear on your purpose, and it most likely will involve somebody on the sidelines who is a cheerleader for you reminding you of what you’ve promised to do today. And it’s beautiful when those things come together, because then discipline is natural. And the more you have it, the better your results; and the better your results, the healthier self-esteem. And the healthier your self-esteem, the more discipline you have. That’s the loop. Okay?
Enjoy. Make sure you’re a person of discipline and accountability.