The word discipline amuses some but rankles many. Just mention the lack of discipline in a room full of pre-school mothers and stand back. A multitude of opinions are stated as to the best methods of child rearing while agreeing that the only children being disciplined properly are their own. If you really want to see the fur fly, mention discipline to a Baby Boomer. You might not only want to step back but hide behind a large piece of furniture. Boomers were the first generation to experience mandatory PE where the Coaches used physical exercise as punishment. “Give me 20” was a phrase heard in public schools all over the nation. For Boomers, control obtained by enforced compliance is not discipline but Fascism.
Recently the concept of discipline has been on my mind. I have watched as a couple of my family members and several friends have been struggling with some pretty serious health issues. Health problems that in most cases could have been avoided by following a healthy diet and a moderate exercise plan. If they had been more disciplined, they may have avoided the repercussions of their actions.
My son, Matthew, is a marathon runner who has competed in the Boston Marathon as well as several lesser-known races. (Lesser known to me.) He has a daily, weekly, and even yearly training schedule that includes physical exercise and diet. He does not deviate from his plan even if it is cold and rainy at 4:00 AM when he gets up to run. During serious training periods, he has been known to turn away the most delicious treats because it will make it difficult for his body to compete at top performance. Everyone in both his personal and professional life is in awe of the effort and dedication he puts into running. When people talk about how disciplined he is, Matthew just smiles.
Marty, my exercise buddy, has embraced our commitment to daily exercise and healthy living. He has gone from walking two miles daily to running those same two miles. He swims and rides his bike almost daily and has embraced our Weight Watcher’s diet. He has a daily and weekly plan for “getting in” his exercise. But when I told him he was disciplined, he scowled. He does not want to be thought of as disciplined. When I told him he was obsessive about his training program, he agreed and smiled.
Both these men had an emotional response to the concept of discipline. For Matthew, discipline is a training program expected to produce a specific result but for Marty it is a state of order based on submission to rules and authority. Matthew finds strength in discipline; Marty finds weakness. I believe those two approaches pretty much sums up the state of discipline in our lives.
In my commitment to lose weight and improve my health, I started out on a moderate diet and exercise program. I had a good plan. Unlike in years past, the weight was slow to come off and it was more difficult to exercise. But the biggest challenge was my own hubris. Marty was progressing faster than me and I did not like it. So I started to push and now, I have injured myself. It is not a “bad’ injury but it hurts and I need to slow down so I may heal. If I had been more disciplined and respected my plan, I would not be suffering the repercussions of my actions.
Discipline is not a dirty word. It is a building block of success whether you are crafting a life, building a business or raising a family. Discipline allows you the freedom to achieve. Coaches, parents, bosses and spouses can create a state of order that can allow you to excel and achieve but you are the only one who can bring discipline into your world. You are the only one who can dream, plan and implement your vision. Embrace the concept of personal discipline and you will surprise not only others with what you can accomplish but you will surprise yourself.
So I ask, is discipline for you?