“What’s your disciplined start to the day? And what excuse do you make when you don’t do that?” Me.
I wrote those questions on a tweet earlier this week, just at a point where I was struggling with my own self-discipline.
I say that, candidly, because there is a potential misunderstanding going around which is common in most professions, I would guess. The misunderstanding is that coaches ‘are’ positive, upbeat, compassionate people. They just ‘are’. That’s their psyche, their philosophy, their inner character.
Well, to an extent that statement is true. It is true to the extent that a policeman is constantly strict and severe, a comedian is always funny, a politician can’t make a decision you don’t like, and a cook can never burn the toast. It is true to the extent that when all conditions are ‘good’, then we are what we are supposed to be, when we are supposed to be whatever that is.
The truth is a little more realistic. (You know; I can never type that word correctly first time. Always comes out ‘relaistic’. Just did, in fact.)
I am a coach, and I spend a lot of my time fed up, angry, unmotivated and resigned. Things people say, their ideologically biased statements; the coincidence that all TV channels show ads at the same time so you can’t avoid them – now including an ad that says, “Don’t even bother turning over,” which I found quite funny; angry when I fail to adhere to my own intended standards (car); unmotivated because the efforts I am making aren’t quite achieving the intended result; resigned when (for example) I finally realise that I have to accept a ‘flaw’ (skills lack, unwillingness to ‘cold call’, that sort of thing), because acceptance allows me to move on to something better.
Self-discipline is doing the things you don’t want to do because doing so serves the greater good; and self-denial means NOT doing the things you want to do because NOT doing them serves the greater good. That means (to me) that there is NO self-discipline in doing things you enjoy doing, nor self-denial in avoiding things you hate.
Which in turn means that anyone I know who is getting great success in what I want to do but hate to do is not necessarily the right role model. They are a potentially great role model, but if I try to match their enthusiasm for something they love doing when I, in fact, hate it, I create a conflict within myself that eventually stops, rather than drives me. And that statement in itself contradicts Albert E Gray’s advice to do the things you don’t want to do because the successes do exactly that.
However, and here’s the kicker, discovering what you really love to do, and then using self-discipline to execute the steps needed to achieve that, is key. And by that, I don’t ‘just’ mean want to do – I mean need to do. When your passion for something is sufficient, overcoming the reluctance to do the things that will take you there is a lot easier.
I openly wonder if that’s the key to success – not so much executing on self-discipline to get something that I see someone else has, but discovery of something I need to do, something I need to do so desperately that self-discipline (and self-denial) become something worth getting done, rather than drudgery.
Yup. A sense of personal mission. That’s the key.
Identify that ‘must’ objective. Set the plan to make that happen. Make the investment necessary. Then, as Patton would say, “Execute the plan violently.”
Gentlemen – this way lies weight loss. Follow me!
For more on The Three Resolutions, go to Amazon here.