The Creed - Discipline
Imagine 89 million of something. Delivered to you in 0.18 seconds. That’s the miracle of Google.
Knowledge at our fingertips.
Now, if knowing better really meant we’d do better...
WE’D BE DOING BETTER ALREADY. But we’re not.
We’re watching cat videos for 30 minutes (or an hour) when we supposedly went online to get some work done, get something accomplished.
Instead, inane video after video. Really?!
Let’s get some.
What's Happening Here?
Our society is getting an A+ in knowledge, but an F in discipline. We keep throwing knowledge at our problems. But often that’s not the problem.
We already know better.
- We KNOW that eating fresh whole fruits and vegetables will help us get healthier and lose weight.
- We KNOW that working out even a little - even for 5 minutes - is better than none at all.
Who doesn’t know that already?! Seriously. There are magazines and talk shows acting like it’s some great new discovery. We KNOW that! C’mon people!
Don’t get me wrong: knowledge is important. And we should always keep learning.
But much of the problem, much of the time, is NOT lack of knowledge.
It’s a lack of discipline.
It’s like physical toughness. It needs to be conditioned and trained and strengthened.
You already know how to march in boots and where the destination is. But are you conditioned enough to actually make it through the march?
You already know it’s better if you say “No, thank you” to desserts at the holiday parties this year. Are you mentally conditioned enough to do it?
“Doing better” takes knowledge AND toughness.
It fuels my results, and my self-respect, regardless of my results.
If you set goals that are worthy of you, you’ll need discipline to achieve them.
Discipline will fuel your expedition, and if you reach your destination, discipline will have been a factor.
But don’t be misled into thinking that discipline will guarantee you reaching your goal or destination.
Discipline does not guarantee that kind of success.
The standard spiritual-not-religious world often teaches that a person’s material achievements are a direct result of their abilities, good thoughts, and service to the world. The make-your-life-better seminars have made buckets of money selling that idea.
Discipline will influence your results, for sure. But there are a lot of factors that influence the outcome of your endeavors.
And discipline is just one of those factors.
See, in the teachings that focus on some kind of material outcome -- success in business, an upwardly mobile lifestyle with yachts, spas, and six-pack abs -- discipline is merely the means to an end.
What I’m saying is: let’s do the opposite.
Let’s focus on inner strength, on heart healing, and on the training, conditioning, and building up of our spirits. Not our bank accounts.
This is difficult, because the society we live in undermines discipline at almost every turn. The assumption out there is: We’d be happier, if only we could do more in less time and with less effort.
Well, it doesn’t work that way. Nature didn't build us that way. There is pleasure in leisure, sure. And I love the labor movement and work safety and child labor laws. Mother Jones is one of my heroes. (That woman was badass.) Work shouldn’t be abusive.
But work and discipline are necessary to real fulfillment, real inner strength, and therefore self-respect. There is a deeper pleasure we get out of exercising discipline and building a strong work ethic. And technology can’t give it to us. You can’t buy it. It doesn’t go on sale. You can only earn it through the natural process of work, discipline, delayed gratification, and self-denial.
It’s actually fascinating to see how our society has tried to commoditize these priceless treasures of inner strength and character. Instead of focusing on actually acquiring them, our society has gone in for selling their symbols.
- Buy some “character” -- distressed clothes, resumé improvement services
- Buy some “heart, conviction, and passion” -- energy drinks, athletic and outer wear
- Buy some “power” -- status symbol like cars, clothes, tech gadgets, and job titles
What I'm saying is: Let’s go for the real thing, not get caught up in the symbols.
Discipline fuels your self-respect, REGARDLESS of your results.
THAT’S what makes it awesome.
I strengthen my body, mind, and spirit with discipline.
The great news is that you can train and condition your body, mind, and spirit all at the same time. We are integrated beings. Training one trains the others at least a little.
As I said at the beginning, we already know what to do.
- Tough workouts
- Media Fasts
- Delaying gratification
Get after it.
BEWARE THIS TRICKY TRICK!*
Discipline means you're in control. That you have self-control. So...
If your "discipline" turns into an obsessive compulsive addiction or disorder...
...it's not discipline anymore. It's a weakness.
True discipline is a strength.
It's a tool that you decide to use and deploy, not a compulsion that has you by the throat.
For example, if you feel a compulsion to work, or workout, or clean the already clean grout in the bathtub, then for you discipline means getting out of the office, or taking a rest day, and just laying on the couch and watching T.V.
I have two thoughts on this aspect of discipline-gone-cancerous:
- If you resist doing something, or not doing something -- the key is that you're resisting it, you're uncomfortable with it -- that might be a clue that you should look at exercising your discipline by acting against the resistance, whatever it is. If you resist working out: work out! If you resist taking a rest day: take a rest day!
- Ask God, Spirit, your Higher Power (whatever you call it) -- to guide you and show you the areas and direction you should go in, to truly build and exercise discipline in your life.
*I am indebted to reader Amanda for pointing out this darker/counterfeit aspect of discipline.
Discipline brings us effort, sacrifice and suffering. Later it brings us something of an inestimable value: something of which those who live only for pleasure, profit or amusement will always be deprived. This peculiar indefinable joy which one must have felt oneself to understand is the sign with which life marks its moment of triumph. - Alexis Carrel