I continue to meditate on the importance of discipline. Earlier this year I picked up a copy of Jocko Willink’s book, Discipline Equals Freedom. It’s a short, easy read, with some big picture truths worth noting:
“Discipline: The root of all good qualities. The driver of daily execution. The core principle that overcomes laziness and lethargy and excuses. Discipline defeats the infinite excuses that say: Not today, not now, I need a rest, I will do it tomorrow.”
“Discipline can seem like your worst enemy. But in reality is your best friend. It will take care of you like nothing else can.”
“Give the full measure. Give every day everything you’ve got.”
“Chances are you will realize that the desire to rest was just weakness – it was the desire to take the path of least resistance – the downhill path – the downward path. And by going through the motions, you overcame that weakness. And you stayed on the righteous path – the disciplined path. You stayed on The Warpath. Right where you know you belong.”
“Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on discipline.”
“Most of us aren’t defeated in one decisive battle. We are defeated one tiny, seemingly insignificant surrender at a time that chips away at who we should really be. And, without realizing it – one day, you wake up and you have become something that you never would have allowed. Instead of strong – you are weak. Instead of disciplined – you are disorganized and lost. Instead of moving forward and progressing – you are moving backward and decaying. And those things happen without you seeing them. Without you recognizing them. So. You have to be vigilant. You have to be on guard. You have to hold the line on the seemingly insignificant little things – things that shouldn’t matter – but that do.”
I was talking with a friend recently about this topic and he brought up a good point. When you see someone who’s really self-disciplined, it’s easy to assume that they are naturally that way or have always been that way. But in reality, becoming a disciplined person is a choice. Really, it’s a series of small choices, made consistently over time, through practice, trial and error, mistakes and missteps, and ultimately perseverance.
If you want to become more disciplined, start with why. After you’ve got that down, give yourself some slack. Understand that it’s going to be a process; more like forming a new habit than putting on a new outfit. Learn from people like Willink who have traveled the road you want to be on. And keep pressing forward.