The Secret to Self-Discipline Rory Vaden
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Today’s work environment has been dubbed everything from the Age of Distraction and the Age of Inattention to The Multitasking Generation. The bottom line is this: regardless of your job title, we are all trying to accomplish increasingly more with increasingly less resources—whether those resources are money, time, focus, or energy. How can we achieve success—however you define it— given these constraints? ChangeThis | 96.01
study successful people for a living, and I believe the answer can be boiled down to one word: self-discipline. It’s not a breakthrough idea, and it’s certainly not popular. It’s an old-school way of thinking that has unfortunately fallen out of vogue, but and one that can yield measurable results when applied to the challenges of working in modern business.
Self-discipline can take many forms: the discipline to tackle problems head-on, to manage and protect your schedule, or to stop avoiding the major projects by filling your time with easier tasks. It can also mean simply saying “no” to certain things, in order to free up valuable time and mental space to focus on the things that truly matter. We can all look at our own situations and identify places where better self-discipline could help us improve the way we work and live. But it doesn’t sound easy, and it sure doesn’t sound fun. So, what have these uber-successful, self-disciplined people figured out that we haven’t? I’ve worked with these people one-on-one, and I can assure you they don’t enjoy self-discipline any more than the rest of us. It’s not that they find it easier to do things that most people don’t like doing; it’s that they think differently about it. Self-discipline is not about chores, or punishment, or doing things the hardest way possible. It’s simply about doing the hard things you know you should do, even when you don’t feel like doing them—and then doing them as early on as possible, to boot. ChangeThis | 96.01
To help others develop the habit of self-discipline, I offer seven principles—truths that, in our work at Southwestern Consulting, we’ve gleaned from successful people around the world. Self-disciplined ultra performers are distinct in the ways they think and evaluate choices. They use a different set of criteria than most people when they make decisions, and it is their decision making process—not sheer iron will—that enables them to choose a path that is different from most. They often choose to “Take the Stairs” while the rest of us stand around looking for an escalator. These principles of self-discipline worked for them, they worked for me, and they will work for you.
1. Sacrifice: The Paradox Principle
Do the difficult things now, and things will be easier in the long-term. To begin to develop the habit of self-discipline, we would all be wise to adopt a buffalo mentality. Let me explain. I grew up in central Colorado. With the Rocky Mountains in the west, and the great Kansas plains in the east, we are one of the only places in the world that has both buffalo and cows. One of my favorite places that I look to for principles of success and the way the world works is in nature, ChangeThis | 96.01
and the way these two creatures, buffalo and cows, respond in nature has some really powerful lessons for us. When a storm approaches from the west, as storms almost always do out there, cows respond in a very predictable way. They know the storm is coming from the west, so they head east to try to outrun the storm.
It’s simply about doing the hard things you know you should do, even when you don’t feel like doing them— and then doing them as early on as possible, to boot.
The only problem is that, as you may know, cows are not real fast. Before long, the storm catches up to them—and the cows, not knowing any better, keep on running. Instead of outrunning the storm, they actually run with the storm, maximizing their exposure...
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