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Articles > Positioning Systems Newsletter # 60 8-29-06 "The Value of Discipline"

I’m torn between disciplining myself to make changes in my life and just allowing things to happen. ON the one hand I feel I deserve to be able to do what I want when I want since I’m the owner. ON the other I’m afraid without discipline they’ll be consequences. Give me the value for having discipline in my life as a business owner?

It’s a strange paradox isn’t it? How can I be free if I’m forced to be disciplined? Yet the truth is, if we’re not disciplined we will never have the freedom to be happy and enjoy ourselves.

Recently I’ve been discovering how true this is on a personal matter. I’ve been meaning to lose weight for some time and just this past week determined I would begin weighing myself every day and lower my calorie count to 1500-2000 a day. I set up an Excel spreadsheet to count calories and record my weight each day. For whatever reason after making feeble attempts at this in the past, this time it is working. Why? Maybe it’s my determination this time, maybe it’s the desire to look better or not end up like my brother who is in the hospital dying from the effects from diabetes. Maybe I'm finally following my own advice (see formula at the end of this column). I do know that by recording the numbers of my weight and calories, I feel like I am accomplishing something. I’ve lost six pounds already, and while I know it’s not good to lose too much weight too fast, I can tell you it still feels great to see that.

What’s the value of discipline then? In this short term example certainly you can see the value of discipline. The results have been quantified. Yet the trouble for most of us as owners is we don’t see the results of our disciplined efforts for months and sometimes even years, when we apply our efforts to our business and our people. You’ve probably heard the quote, "the man who can not discipline himself can never discipline others." It’s often a mistake we make when choosing employees to become lead, ers. How effective have they been in disciplining themselves? Do you know people who are extraordinarily disciplined that are not successful? If you do I’ll offer to you the one place that perhaps they are not disciplined and may never realize it - In their thoughts.

Are you guilty of this? Has your mind been thinking about the worst or the best that can happen? That is the first place to start a discipline ritual. And it is the surest place to see results, although depending on the darkness of these thoughts between our ears, we won’t truly see the outcome of this effort until sometime after we have shaped our thoughts to a more positive perspective. Start each day by spending 15 minutes thinking about what you want and visualize it.

Do you not believe that discipline is a positive habit? Then perhaps an exercise that you can quantify like the one I’m currently engaged in would help you to increase your belief system. Discipline like this provides its own reward. Engaging in something meaningful where you begin to get results is extremely positive, uplifting and builds self-confidence. Truly the business owners I see fail generally fall into the category of a loss of discipline. Perhaps they never had the skill to begin with or they had it but lost it as their business grew, accelerated to the point that they became complacent, and lost the discipline that had helped them to achieve their goals.

In the book "The Power of Full Engagement" by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz offer that will and discipline are far more limited resources than most of us realize. If you have to think about something each time you do it, the reality is you won’t probably keep doing it for very long. Think about the things you do out of habit. I would guess almost every one of us brush our teeth daily, yet do we every have to really stop and think about it. That’s the power of a positive ritual. It requires very little thought if any to follow through on it.

In order to make change last and develop discipline it requires three steps: Define Purpose, Face the Truth, and Take Action. One of our roles as coaches is to provide you with accountability. You need tools that help you define your purpose, face the truth and take action. Do you have these tools for yourself and your business? If you do, use them. If you review your successes in life I believe you will find a high degree of discipline is behind every remarkable achievement you reached. The irony is that discipline leads to freedom, but don’t ever confuse that anyone who truly has real freedom has achieved it without a great measure of real discipline.

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Positioning Systems helps business owners and entrepreneurs transform their business.  We provide the tools and coaching to help you take control of your business -- rather then having your business control you.