Can you imagine a life without the daily discipline of brushing your teeth? You would brush them some days, but then let it go for a few days. Not a good strategy. If you’ve ever seen the documentary called: Pumping Iron, there’s a scene where a very young Arnold Swazernegger is talking about lifting weights and why disciplined exercise is so important to him - he says: you can’t cheat your way to health. You have to be disciplined.
Discipline is one of the most under-valued, under-talked subjects. It gets a bad rap. It reeks of drudgery, repetition, and forcing ourselves to do something we don’t want to do.
We prefer to talk about how to find our passion or find our purpose. And then there’s the latest trend: Only do what you love – what feels good. I agree with this in principle – it’s always preferable to do stuff that lights us up. But don’t be under any illusion that pursuing a life of what you love doesn’t also require that you discipline yourself to get stuff done.
I’ve written a book, posted hundreds of blogs, and created several online programs that required a lot of hard work, and you can bet that there were moments when I had to discipline myself to learn how to do things so that I could get stuff done. None of it came easy, but I disciplined myself because I never lost sight of the bigger reason why I was doing it all in the first place. The WHY.
I believe that we are all inherently creative and resourceful – it’s our default setting. But if we really want to tap into that part of us, we also have to discipline ourselves to learn new things, to fail, and to try again. We're not all born knowing how to set up a website, write a book, or do public speaking.
We have to let go of thoughts like:
I don’t have natural talent, or
I just don’t have the patience to do that, or
I’ll never be able to do that.
I’ve come to see that what blocks us from attaining mastery – attaining true confidence at anything -- is our lack of discipline.
You’ve already mastered brushing your teeth, driving your car, learning how to use the computer and so many other things you do every day. Carve out time to learn how to do stuff – make peace with the occasional grind. You can't cheat your way to mastery. Invite discipline back into the equation and you’ll discover that mastery will create magic in your life.