Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Missing Ingredient in Most People: Discipline

Discipline has gotten a bad reputation. Since the '60s, it has become associated with rigidity, conformity, militarism, even Nazism.

Yet if I think about all the successful and unsuccessful people I know, the biggest differentiators are intelligence and discipline.

What does discipline mean? A few examples:
  • Rather than indulging the natural desire to dabble, remaining focused on becoming an expert in their chosen field.
  • Willingness to stay focused on a task, taking breaks only when necessary, until the task or a component of it is complete.
  • Willingness to fight past the uncomfortability of not knowing: struggling to master something, willing to expose their ignorance by asking a co-worker a question, and/or hiring a tutor or mentor to accelerate their learning.
  • Working longer hours. The longer you work at your profession or craft, the better you'll get.
  • Willingness to do extra professional development after work, for example, while on the treadmill, doing professional reading rather than watching Desperate Housewives reruns.
One of my most strongly held beliefs is that taking the time to become a true expert at your profession is key to living a meaningful life. You'll both be of greater service to the world and will acquire the legitimate self-esteem that comes from being not a jack of all trades, but a master of one.


Anonymous said...

This is a well-written article.

Marty Nemko said...

Thank you.

Jose said...

Darn! I was just putting together a little piece on the very subject of Discipline...you beat me to it! :) I think I'll now title it: "The Dreaded D Word". Excellent piece Marty, I'll definitely track back to it. Cheers.


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