Why would I choose to write about Discipline? Honestly, it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.
There are many aspects of my life where I’d like to become more accomplished…Writing, music, art, physical exercise, yoga, and of course meditation.
A quick search on the internet gave me this quote by Jim Rohn, motivational speaker and author of “7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness”.
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”
I’m a big fan of visual metaphors.
So, I’m thinking “Yes!” That’s what I need…a bridge…to get me from where I am now to where I wish to be.
But…building a bridge takes time and tools.
What do I need to build my bridge? How do I cultivate Discipline?
Research has always been helpful for me when I want to learn more about a topic. This can be tool number one…I turn to Merriam-Webster.
Discipline noun The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.
Punishing someone…correcting their behavior as a method of discipline. To me this brings up many negative thoughts, memories, and ideas from my childhood. I benefitted a lot from my school experiences, but all of them were not positive.
“If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?” -Pink Floyd, The Wall
Although I certainly didn’t experience the same post war educational environment that scarred Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters (which ultimately helped him to create one of rock and roll’s greatest albums of all time….Hmmm),
I did however cross paths with some educators who ran out of creative ideas and were far too aggressive verbally and physically with students to be of much help to us.
I was thrown against the lockers in elementary school once by a teacher who became frustrated that the class wouldn’t quiet down. I happened to be the next student who talked.
I also met a lot of teachers who were screamers, trying to intimidate by yelling and calling attention to individuals…They’d embarrass them by kicking them out of assembly in front of the whole school.
Thankfully, most educators now realize that effective discipline using positive reinforcement, modeling, and a loving supportive environment does a much better job than some past models.
At my age, I’m not really looking for discipline to come solely from an external source anyway.
I’m looking for an internal force to guide me.
So, I continue by searching….“self discipline”
Self discipline can be described as having inner strength of mind and determination.
This is much more of what I quest for.
I want to take ownership of this…To be disciplined.
Disciplined Adj. showing a controlled form of behavior or way of working.
What does disciplined behavior look like for me?
When I scan my brain to answer this question, I think of words like:
As a musician, I had to use discipline to acquire my musical skills. Over and over again.
I look back and see my transition from my childhood into adulthood. As a boy, I admired my dad and brother who played guitar and sang together. I wanted to join them.
I suffered though the awkwardness and disappointment of sounding terrible at first, but listening to the Beatles on my turn table helped keep me motivated…I wanted to be John Lennon.
Even now, especially now, as life has gotten so much busier and complicated, it takes a whole lot of discipline to not only maintain my skills, but to continue to grow my skills.
My childhood dreams have shifted, I don’t want to be John Lennon, I want to be me…the me that’s capable of taking my talents and expressing myself freely. I want my feelings and emotions to come out through my instrument. I want to be the bridge between the original artist and the audience…bringing my own interpretation to connect deeper with the people I play for.
My goal is to connect to others through my music…. So how can I turn this into an accomplishment?
Here are 4 tips to building a discipline bridge:
1. Look for inspiration from others who you admire.
Who has what you’re looking for and what can you learn from them?
Jocko Willink, author of Discipline equals freedom, is a very accomplished man and one that many think of as the epitome of Disciplined. He’s a LT. Commander, Navy Seal, Black Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, highly decorated combat soldier, author of 11 books, and host of the weekly podcast called the Jocko Podcast.
Although I have no military aspirations, I’m very impressed with Jocko’s accomplishments and physical abilities.
His discipline is legendary. His daily instagram is full of pictures of his wrist watch showing the ungodly hour of 4:30am….the moment he’s about to begin his exercise routine.
Jocko says that “Discipline means doing the things you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do them. It means sacrifice. This sounds like the opposite of freedom- but they are actually very connected…
…the only way to get to a place of freedom is through discipline. If you want financial freedom, you have to have financial discipline. If you want more free time, you have to follow a more disciplined time management system.”
He seems a little hard core right? But that doesn’t have to be my take away. Getting up a 4:30 am sounds wonderfully disciplined. But I know that at this time, that is not for me. An attempt at being Jocko would not be very successful.
This leads to #2…
2. Be true to yourself.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” -attributed to Albert Einstein (I couldn’t confirm this, but I do love the wisdom of the quote)
It’s great to have a source of inspiration in someone else, but don’t try to become that person.
Look to your unique qualities and how you’d like your life to play out, given what you have and what you want.
Comparing yourself to others when you don’t fully understand what their path has been, will only leave you frustrated and feeling insecure…a sure way to deflate your inspiration.
It’s easy to convince yourself that luck or unfair talent rather than discipline was their secret to accomplishment.
3. Start with something you love
I want to be involved in things that I love to do. I want to pair Discipline with Love. I love music.
Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist and singer for the Grateful Dead was an amazingly accomplished multi-instrumentalist- Banjo, guitar, vocals and pedal steel guitar. The pedal steel guitar is one that takes an incredible amount of discipline to learn with its 10 strings, three pedals, and three or four knee levers.
They say Jerry was always the first person awake and could be found sitting with his guitar playing scales over and over. He played constantly. He appears on several hundred albums!!
This quote from the Grateful Dead beautifully summarizes where to look when you’re trying to determine your love, your inspiration in life…
“Well, I can tell your future...Whoa, just look what’s in your hand.” Grateful Dead, Playing in the Band.
Are you wanting to be a musician? A writer?
What are you consistently drawn to? What subject do you love reading about? Where do you keep finding yourself?…in the garden, in a bookstore, at the craft store? What’s your craft?
The Grateful Dead quote can also help you see where you’re getting distracted…”just look what’s in your hand”…for many of us it’s our iPhone… I remind myself to put it down and pick up my guitar. Discipline.
4. Be kind to yourself
Discipline is a practice. It takes time and patience to develop a new skill or master one.
The most important action on your journey is to talk nicely to yourself.
Remember the first definition of discipline….using punishment to correct disobedience.
This is not what you should be aiming for on your path to discipline.
Remember, the most successful educators know that discipline using positive reinforcement and a loving supportive environment get the best results and the most well-balanced students.
So…how do you treat yourself when you’re not disciplined? Do you beat yourself up or are you compassionate?
If you’re trying to push the limits of your skill, you will have some failures. Remember, you’re trying to grow and do difficult things. Breaking out of the comfort zone is not easy….but it will set you free.
Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back and reward your hero’s journey…your journey of transformation and triumph which comes through moving through the inevitable struggles and obstacles in life…every hero faces struggles along the way…that’s what makes them heroes in the end.
Nurture the hero.
Enjoy a cup of tea,
Josh (and Kara)