Recently I was asked, “What separates those who have success versus those who seem to draw the short end of the stick in business?” My immediate knee-jerk reaction was to answer the individual by giving a short statement about hard work and a positive attitude. However, the more I thought about this question, the more I realized what is prevalent in someone who is successful. This one ingredient can be used in various aspects of life and it comes down to the word “self-discipline.”
The definition of self-discipline is, “The ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.” The more I reflected upon this definition, it became apparent to me what separates someone from success, and failure boils down to the amount of self-discipline a person has. Think about the number of New Year’s resolutions that people write down at the beginning of the year. Yet, by this time of year, you find most people have already “abandoned” the resolutions they were so ambitious about months earlier.
Take someone who is focusing on their health and someone who lacks self-discipline; life is much easier for someone who sits back on the couch compared to someone getting their body in motion. I’ve written in the past about people waiting to go after their dreams. Why? Self-discipline or a lack thereof is what becomes the downfall of many people.
In the world of business, it is not easy to have the ability to keep fighting when the odds are stacked against you. When the world has your back against the wall, one of the hardest feats known to man is picking yourself back up when life has beat you down. This proverbial “beat-down” could be a job from which you were fired, a promotion for which you were overlooked, or even a person turning you down for a date. It took me asking my wife out 13 times before she reluctantly agreed to a first date! We all face obstacles and struggles in our lives. If you have a heartbeat, you’re going to have problems. The answer to these problems lies in how we respond to these struggles.
This is where having self-discipline comes into play. Having the ability to be in control of your feelings and your actions make the disappointing times a lot easier to handle, as opposed to when you feel out-of-balance with life. You may be asking yourself, “How does a person find self-discipline?” I narrow this response down to three things.
The first is “Goal Setting” and making sure you are writing out your goals on a daily basis. Who has a better shot of hitting their goal - the person who writes their goal once in a New Year’s resolution or the person who writes their goal down every day? The obvious answer is the person continuously writing out their goals. If you’re not doing this, start today.
The second is “Time Management” and your ability to control the hours you have. Everyone has 168 hours per week. No one can create more time or less time, as we are all guaranteed the same hours. What’s important is what we do with the time we have. The biggest lie people repeat is they do not have enough time. If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, then you’ll find an excuse. I am a believer in the written to-do list. I learned this special skill set from my wife who has helped educate and domesticate me in so many ways! This list is simple to do and takes what you want to get accomplished and assigns an importance to the tasks you want to complete. There will be days you hit it out of the park with your to-do list, and other days it will look like you barely touched it. Regardless of the good or bad, keep making your daily list of what you want to get done.
The final word is “Persistence.” You must be obsessed or persistent in achieving self-discipline. In life, you’re going to face obstacles, but you’ve got to build self-discipline in your life to find success. There’s a quote I love that states, “Persistence beats resistance,” and I point this out because if I wouldn’t have been persistent with my wife, we wouldn’t be married today. I urge you to work on your self-discipline and create the life you’ve always wanted. Don’t abandon your dreams.
By: D. A. Slinkard