“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret… Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment” – Jim Rohn
Doing what is right versus what is easy
Professor Albus Dumbledore is a fictional character in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Throughout most of the series, he is the headmaster at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire he says: “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”
I am very fond of this quote because I have no doubt that this is something with which we all struggle on a daily basis. Abraham Lincoln defines discipline as “choosing between what you want now, and what you want most”.
Both these quotes talk to ensuring that we always choose the things that align with our personal goals versus choosing the alternative, which is typically the things that purely meet our needs for short-term gratification.
“Most people equate discipline with an absence of freedom. In fact, the opposite is true – only the disciplined are truly free. The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passions.” – Stephen Covey
These words are absolutely spot-on. If you cast your mind back to the times where you have truly been able to live a disciplined life, and assuming that you can be brutely honest with yourself, you would recall that feeling of ultimate freedom. Not only because you were cut loose from the chains of the things that kept you from doing what you were supposed to be doing – the things that really make you proud – but also because you were able to experience the rewards that followed. When we experience this type of freedom, we are relieved because we feel in control as we made a decision to take charge of our lives at that point.
The fallacy of intermittent discipline
The thing about discipline, though, is that we cannot selectively choose to be disciplined one day and not disciplined the next, or to be disciplined on certain days when we feel like it. That is not only confusing, but you would be doing yourself a serious injustice. Discipline has to become part of our DNA, or part of our being, like breathing.
Perhaps we weren’t that disciplined today, but we need to strive towards becoming disciplined tomorrow, and next week, and next month – in fact, for every single day, week, month or year for the rest of our days on this Earth. We want to have peace of mind and be proud of ourselves for not living a suboptimal life. We want to reap the rewards of being the best that we could possibly be.
Choice and discipline
“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” – James C. Collins
If I was asked for two words to summarise the essence of self-leadership, they would be: Choice and discipline. Making the right choices will help us to achieve our personal goals, and discipline will help us to consistently live the correct thoughts, feelings and behaviours in support of this achievement. I believe that this is what differentiates successful people from unsuccessful people, and happy people from unhappy people… Although I believe these two words encapsulate the essence of self-leadership, there is so much more to it. I am looking forward to sharing this with you in many more blogs over the coming months.
“The important thing is this: To be ready at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you could become.” – Charles Dickens
Hekkie van der Westhuizen, PhD
“If you are interested in the topic of Self-Leadership, please look out for my exciting new Self-Leadership book, launching in August 2021”