In 20 years of being “in front of the room” teaching, advising, speaking and coaching both personal clients as well as large organizations, I have found that there is a serious lacking in the skill of discipline. Everyone wants to be motivated. We play songs, movie clips, YouTube videos and employ light shows and even FOG MACHINES to get people all lathered up and motivated but that motivation is like a sun tan…it fades quickly and is not something that anyone can hold onto for any length of time. Only discipline can be held. The thing is…discipline isn’t fun or sexy. It’s boring. It’s literally the absence of all the glitz and glam of motivation but it is the requirement for success in any endeavor be it money, health or relationships, discipline is the way.
And therefore, people are failing in so many domains of life. They are falling for the motivation. They are falling for the talk show hosts, the Facebook gurus, the Instagram stars all because motivation feels good and is easy to achieve! Look, there is nothing wrong with motivation. If it gets you out of bed in the morning then use it! But just understand that motivation isn’t meant to solve the problems. You know it’s true. Ask yourself: how many times have you started but not finished a project or a new fitness program or a budgeting exercise? How many times have you not even STARTED something because you knew you would not be able to see it through? Today I signed up for a flexibility and mobility course that is an 8-week program. It’s 100% run on my mobile device and it’s up to me to do the work for the 8 weeks. All the reviews were the same: “this course was GREAT…if only I stuck with it, I would have been much better off”. That would stop most people in their tracks. The head trash would seep in right then and there and most people would never even start because they would assume that if others couldn’t hold the 8-week commitment then why would they think they could do it?
Motivation can get you to click on the link…but it can’t get you through the 8-week course. Only discipline will get you through the 8-week course.
Once you accept what I am saying as truth, the next question you’ll have is, “how do I acquire discipline”? I’m not one who thinks that there is ONE way to do anything, but I will say this: I have noticed that those who acquire and hold the skill of discipline usually need to start out working on it through kinetics (physical challenge) and need to be held to the task by a team. In other words, you need to start off with “I HAVE TO” (because others are holding your feet to the fire) before you can morph into “I WANT TO”.
A great example of this is my 30-day burpee challenge. I challenged my followers on Facebook to do 100 burpees a day for 30 days, to video it, and to post it every day on Facebook. Not one person but I made it through all 30 days. There were many excuses from people, but there were only two legitimate REASONS why people didn’t do it. One woman (my Mom!) wound up with appendicitis in the middle of the challenge. That is a reason not to continue. The other reason is that I was the only one who had hundreds of people watching that video every day and if I quit, they would all know it. They may never say anything about it and they may even make excuses for me…but they would know one thing…I quit. And if I quit on that challenge, then what else was I quitting on? These were clients and friends of mine. There was no way I would let them see me quit. It was my way of saying I would never quit on them. Whether they knew it or not, they were on my “team”. So in that 30 days, I HAD TO DO BURPEES…until I didn’t.
On day 31, I woke up…and I did burpess. I didn’t HAVE TO, but something changed. I WANTED to. I’ve done 100 burpees almost every day since July 13th 2017. I think I’ve missed 3 days in that time frame. That takes discipline. But what started off as something I had to do morphed into something I desired to do. It’s easier to be disciplined when you want to do something, but you can’t really get to that point without moving through the complexity of the “HAVE TO”. One of my coaches tells me that before something can be simple, you must move through the complex. You must get stuck in the details, until you no longer are lost in the details. That’s the same with discipline. You must go through the must, the have to, the hard part, before it has a chance to morph into the pleasurable or the “want to”.
I had a similar experience with a 30 day No Sugar challenge. For the first 20-something days I couldn’t wait until the stupid challenge was over. Again, I ran it on Facebook for all to see…so there was NO WAY I would quit. My wife was also doing the challenge with me (she did the burpee one too, if I didn’t mention that she would be a bit perturbed!) and because she was doing it alongside of me I couldn’t cheat and I couldn’t quit. I HAD to keep going. But then on day 31 when I was “allowed” to eat sugar, I didn’t. I had a glass of wine. But nothing else. I had moved into WANTING to not eat sugar.
Will this always work? Probably not. 30 days may or may not be enough to “solve” a problem you have in diet, exercise, relationships or whatever, but I can tell you this much: 30 days of challenging yourself to accomplish a task will create a good base and road map to acquiring the skill of discipline. As you go through the challenges and you post your progress to your social media and allow others to hold you accountable you will be well on your way to and through the “HAVE TO/WANT TO” dichotomy.
What do you need to work on?
- Saving money?
- Reading the Bible?
- Working out?
- Eating better?
Whatever it is, don’t set yourself for failure with motivation…look to create discipline and see how it moves you through the HAVE to until you get to the WANT to!