When most of us hear the word discipline, we cringe. It’s not because we don’t want to succeed or that we don’t want to reach a goal. The issue lies in our association with the word- the emotional attachment to how we were punished in childhood for misbehaving. In coaching new entrepreneurs, I find a sticky belief and heavy resistance to creating a new pattern of discipline. The cognitive bias that is loss aversion floods into every thought and habit. Humans are more afraid of what they think they will lose than they are of dying with their purpose even having been un-lived. The pain of letting go of a current identity is greater than the pain of not living authentically…or so they think.
When we consider the notion that life is our greatest gift, we must be open to shift our perceived persona according to changes we face along the way. We must find the courage to face our deepest fears and harness our passion to become the living, breathing example of greatness in all we do. Without discipline, this will not be achieved and so, we feel unfulfilled, bored and exhausted with the humdrum mediocrity of life.
Filtering out what ‘could be’ to focus on our limits, failures, and lack, keeps us playing small and unwilling to explore greater potential. This is one of the main differences between the 1% and the 99%- a mindset of potential and abundance vs identity with scarcity and lack.
Merriam-Webster defines discipline as both punishment and instruction. Based on our perception of what’s possible, we choose to associate with the definition that validates our beliefs most.
If you choose to believe that you are a failure, doomed to make the wrong choices, and unlucky compared to others, you’ll fall into the punishment group. Your success will be dictated by your fear of failing again, your actions will be stunted by fear of peer judgment and your ability to think for yourself will reflect a soiled combination of extreme people-pleasing, aka martyrdom. The ultimate sacrifice is your sanity and you unknowingly feed into it day in and day out. Your thoughts, habits and automatic choices sabotage and punish you for everything you have done wrong in the past.
When you embrace the second definition, instruction, you become empowered to take risks, inspired to take immediate action on learning, and are courageous enough to stand alone when the crowds are too scared to leap. Your life exudes confidence, your efforts are great contributions to the world, and your ability to think clearly provides fuel to your excellence in work ethic.
Having been a long-time perfectionist, I fell victim to procrastination quite often mainly due to a lack of self-awareness. My mind was cluttered with shame, guilt, and regret from the past, and my actions expressed self-punishment. I’d become a master at failure and self hate, when I could have become a master in greatness. Taking ownership for how I was showing up in life, pursuing excellence in my efforts, and seeking refuge in clarity of mind helped me to see how I had become a disciple of my failures rather than of my potential. You see, it’s the process of what we focus on, the path of study, that creates our life as-is.
To become a disciple of our highest and best self, we must first get right with all the ways we are holding ourselves back. We must develop a brutal honesty to face the mistakes we have made and how we are allowing our identity with past failure to guide our every move in the present moment. To truly succeed, we have to find the light of truth in our distorted view of reality.
You wouldn’t go to school to learn how to fail, right? Why would you spend your life studying, and mastering, the art of it? Study the path of achievement, not of failure, living each moment as independent of the last. Let your life exemplify the art of greatness as a discipline of your highest and best self.