Discipline Defines Success or Failure

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Harvey Mackay is one of my favorite columnists. A recent article of his discusses the importance of discipline in every aspect of life. Discipline is an essential component of our lives, not only does it build character, it helps us accomplish the goals and dreams that we want to accomplish. My hope is that after reading the following article, you will be inspired to continue the habit of discipline and reap its’ benefits.

“Discipline defines success or failure” by Harvey Mackay:

Most people aim to do right; they just fail to pull the trigger. For whatever reason, they just don’t have the wherewithal to finish the job. They are lacking discipline.

“Discipline is the foundation upon which all success is built. Lack of discipline inevitably leads to failure,” said the late motivational speaker Jim Rohn.

It doesn’t matter whether you are pursuing success in business, sports, the arts, or life in general. Hope is not an option. The difference between wishing and accomplishing is discipline.

Bob Knight, college basketball’s winningest coach, said: “It has always been my thought that the single most important ingredient to success in athletics or in life is discipline. I have many times felt that this word is the most ill-defined in all of our language. My definition of the word is as follows: 1) Do what has to be done; 2) When it has to be done; 3) As well as it can be done and 4) Do it that way all the time.”

Julie Andrews put it a little differently. She said: “Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.”

Ingnacy Jan Paderewski, a fantastic pianist, said: “If I miss one day of practice, I notice it. If I miss two days of practice, the critics notice it. If I miss three days of practice, the audience notices it.”

Discipline is all about sitting down and setting goals, figuring out a schedule to achieve those goals, and then following your plan. The formula is the same for athletes, business people, and students: have a no-nonsense attitude, work hard and improve every day. Arrive early and stay late if that’s what it takes to get the job done. I always say to go the extra mile, which is a stretch of the highway where there are seldom any traffic jams.  And few people are trying to pass you.

It’s the old adage: “The more you put in, the more you get out.”

“You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good,” said Jerry West, the former Los Angeles Lakers great who was nicknamed “Mr. Clutch.”

Health and fitness clubs get very busy at the beginning of each year. New Year’s resolutions result in large numbers of people joining, wanting to get fit or lose weight. What happens in February, March and April? The number of the people at the club starts to thin out, but the well-intentioned folks who lacked discipline didn’t thin down.

Good intentions aren’t enough. People have good intentions when they set a goal to do something, but then they miss a deadline or a workout. Suddenly it gets a lot easier to miss again and again and again.

The legendary football coach Vince Lombardi maintained: “A player’s got to know the basics of the game and how to play his position. Next, you’ve got to keep him in line.”

That’s discipline, and what every good manager must have. It’s not enough as a manager to teach your employees how to do the work. You also have to provide the motivation that keeps them moving forward. Perhaps most importantly, a good manager must model self-discipline.

To me it is better to prepare and prevent instead of repair and repent.

Mackay’s Moral: If your willpower doesn’t work, try your “won’t” power.


Live long and prosper.

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