What Is Discipline?

I spent a decade in the Marine Corps, and there’s a lot of about discipline that most people misunderstand. I’ve come to realize this from the number of clients who have hired me specifically to help them apply discipline to their decisions both personally and professionally

First, discipline is never loud, assertive, or attention seeking. It’s not about being super human and crushing every goal. It’s also not about being a perpetual motion machine always in a state of movement. Instead, it’s mostly quiet. It’s subtle, and it balances getting s*** done with reflection and self-awareness.

So what is discipline? I’ll give you ten answers. Count how many describe you and score yourself as you go.

  • It’s about knowing your limits and knowing the costs of exceeding them.
  • It’s about setting a direction based on your values and passions and then knowing how to “chunk” it up in a way that gets you there one small step at a time.
  • It’s about starting the things you finish. And equally knowing when to quit the things you must.
  • It’s about making clear to those around you what you’re saying yes to and what you’re saying no to.
  • It’s about the courage to stand your ground when someone crosses a boundary and knowing how to communicate that politely but firmly.
  • It’s about creating good habits that consistently make you 1% better but also about not trimming all the fat. A few guilty pleasures are a part of being human.
  • It’s about appreciating the small feats every day so they energize you to stay the course.
  • It’s about knowing the best ways to hold yourself accountable and tweaking them as you become a better version of yourself.
  • It’s about knowing when your emotions serve you and knowing when your pragmatic self should take lead.
  • It’s about deciding quickly but also about knowing when to delay a decision for more information or to ensure you’re in the right frame of mind.

If you’re curious for more, I’ve written previously about discipline in the context of agility and effective teaming. Talk to you all again soon.

(The featured image today is of my god daughter and I circa 2001. I could write volumes about how much I’ve learned from the stockpile of mistakes I’ve made since then.)

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