I bet each one of us either knows, has read of, has heard of or has seen a successful person, regardless of the definition of success one wishes to apply. What is common with most of us, is that we concentrate more on the successes of these individuals and fail to interrogate the stories behind their successes. Whereas success appears to be rosy, the path and the terrain to success is often long and rugged. Most successful people have had their fair share of problems, discouragements, disappointments and failures. It’s the story behind every success and not the success itself that is most inspiring. These successful people tend to possess something that somehow pushes them through their tribulations making them emerge triumphant.
Of great concern is not even those who succeed, but those who attempt and give up along the way. White elephant projects are not just existent for governments, but individuals as well. We all have conceived good ideas before, started working on them and cannot remember what happened along the way. New Year resolutions are not new to us. We have had recurrent items on such lists simply because we never get to work on them to their logical conclusion. Something happens along the implementation way and we get swayed from accomplishing them. This ‘something’ is what concerns me today. A deep dive into the components of success reveals that most people have what it takes to succeed but are in most cases pulled back by one attribute – indiscipline. Discipline is the single most effective differentiator between winners and the rest. Indiscipline is lack of it.
For peak performance purposes, discipline is the ability to suppress or to exercise restraint from diversionary desires in order to pursue an objective to full accomplishment. We all can plan, we all can develop goals, we all know and can gather the requisite resources for achievement of our goals, yet only a handful of us hit their goals. They are disciplined. They have learned to exercise restraint. Along the path to achievement, distractions are bound to happen. The urge to succumb to instant gratification will always try to obscure your focus on the goal you pursue.
Distractions will in most cases appear more appealing now than the goal being pursued. When you purpose to wake up early to accomplish a task, the urge to snooze the alarm and sleep another five minutes will be more appealing. When you purpose to hit the gym for fitness, the urge to have some rest on a day or two will be more appealing. When you decide to be faithful to your spouse, the urge to ‘do it just once’ may feel more appealing. When you plan to exceed your performance at the workplace, the urge to relax after meeting targets is more appealing. The examples are many. Compromising your focus for instant gratification in all these scenarios eventually cripples the achievement of the ultimate goal. Indiscipline is a deadly dream killer.
Indiscipline breeds mediocrity, excuses and false justifications. Indiscipline will teach you how going an extra mile is of no importance or even how your body system cannot allow you to exercise some more. Indiscipline will teach how to recite the phrase, ‘You Only Live Once’ as a justification for bending to distractions. Discipline on the other hand, keeps your eyes on the goal and demands that while in the course of pursuing goals, you constantly pause to review your performance against your plan. Discipline will not allow you the luxury of giving excuses and justification.
Perhaps the story of the hare who was challenged to a race by the tortoise, demonstrates the dangers of indiscipline. The hare, knowing well that he was a fast runner than the tortoise offered to allow the tortoise to begin the race an hour earlier. It happened and the hare actually caught up with tortoise and overtook him. After another hour of running, the hare, knowing he had left the tortoise miles and miles behind, was overwhelmed by the urge to catch a nap shortly before the finish line. The nap translated into slumber and by the time he woke up, tortoise had already crossed the finish line! We are endowed with great potential but we often allow indiscipline to put a sunder between us and achievement.
Unfortunately, discipline is not something that can be borrowed, purchased or leant in school. The truth about achievement is that there is always a price to be paid. Self-Discipline is a deliberate choice that will always aid you in payment of the price for achievement. You have to deliberately choose to turn a deaf ear to the voices of distraction. You have to deliberately learn when to say the shortest, yet the most difficult word – NO. You have to keep your eyes on the ultimate goal no matter how tedious and long the process will be.
Success requires investment of consistent effort in an objective and only discipline will deliver that consistency to you. Train yourself to remain focused on the goal and have a winning mindset. Before you do anything, endeavor to answer this question, ‘will it move closer to or away from achievement of my goal?’ if the answer is not in the affirmative, shun it! Rise above mediocrity and excuses. Excuses only carry meaning for losers, and you are not one. Choose discipline for it will set you above limitations. Remember, while hard work and attitude will get you to the top, only discipline will keep you there. You can do better!