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Self-Discipline

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Use the Night to Ready the Day

Our mornings go a long way in setting the tone for our entire day. Just so, our evenings, too, set the trajectory for our mornings. Therefore, when we use the night to ready the day, we set up our mornings for success.

Using the night to ready the day is all about giving your future self a helping hand. My wife is brilliant at this. We have two daughters under the ages of three, so, every night she does the following:

• She loads and starts the dishwasher. This ensures every dish will be clean and available to use tomorrow.

• She starts breakfast. She sets out sippy cups, appliances, plates, forks, napkins, non-refrigerated foods, etc. She literally sets out any and everything to help make breakfast time go as smooth as possible.

• She sets her books, journal and pen next to the side table where she will be reading tomorrow morning. This guarantees she won’t have to waste time tracking down a missing book the following day. 

Knocking these things out the night before eliminates surprises, extinguishes “rush” and allows her to focus more on the things that matter. 

Why not make it a game? Try and figure out how many things you can do the night before that will prepare you for a peaceful, purposeful day tomorrow. Readying yourself at night secures for yourself a reward come sun up.

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Persevere Especially When it Hurts

Tribulation is the training ground for perseverance. 

Going through physical and emotional pain is the only way you can hope to attain such a prized character trait. Every time you keep going, or get back up, or go a little further, or do a little more, you’re building up one of your most important assets. And this asset delivers phenomenal returns. 

According to Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D., perseverance or grit is the key to entrepreneurial success. It is, literally, the one character trait that makes the difference between failure and accomplishment in most things in life. 

Are you rejecting pain or embracing it? Are you giving up at the first tinge of discomfort, or are you pushing past it? Growth is reserved for those gritty ones who persevere, especially when it hurts.

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When Actions Match Intentions...

Ensuring continuity is an important, but pestering priority for filmmakers. An entire position is devoted to ensuring it is achieved. The script supervisor’s sole purpose is to maintain continuity throughout the filmmaking process so that the audience never experiences disorientation.

Wouldn’t it be nice to secure a script supervisor to ensure continuity in our own lives? Haven’t we all felt, at one time or another, like a big ball of contradictions? 

Alas! We ourselves are responsible for maintaining our own continuity. We do so by making sure our actions line up with our intentions. The moment we do as we intended, we experience a burst of fulfillment and satisfaction. When we don’t do as we intend, however, we experience a loss of orientation and, over time, a chronic case of defeatism. 

My advice is this: Don’t declare your intentions haphazardly.  Be sure you count the costs, because what’s at stake is more than just an objective, resolution or goal. When what you will no longer guarantees how you’ll act, you’re in danger of living life rudderless.

When you make a commitment, keep it. See it through. Strive for continuity. There’s more at stake than you think.

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The Wisdom of Stopping on Time

If you’re an achiever, action is what you were born for. You love to work. You love to practice your craft; it animates you. It lifts you up. It also presents you with a real challenge, that of stopping on time.

What achiever doesn't love to sneak in a little more work after the whistle blows? How many times has he blown past quitting time with the words, “One more minute!”

But when you blow past a stop time, you jeopardize every other start time on your calendar. If this becomes a habit, you inevitably become undisciplined with your most precious resource—time. Knowing you have to stop on time motivates you to always begin on time.

I want to be a person that has enough self-discipline to start and stop when I know I should. What about you? Is stopping difficult for you? Do you see the connection between the two?

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Seek to Follow Through

“The immature mind hops from one thing to another; the mature mind seeks to follow through.”
— Harry Overstreet

Seek to follow through.
Seek to follow through when things are going marvelous.
Seek to follow through when things get monotonous.
And seek to follow through when everything is downright miserable.

Seek to follow through in the good, bad, and ugly moments of whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. If you do, you'll end up building something invaluable—mental toughness. A one-word description for mental toughness is fortitude, which means, the strength of mind to endure adversity with courage. 

I believe fortitude is one of the most important character traits you can possess. It’s one trait that increases your odds of success because, as we all know, anything worth doing always costs twice as much and takes twice as long to achieve.

Finally, following through is a move toward maturity. It's a concrete way to make the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

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A Culture of Discipline

Growth occurs the moment resistance is overcome. 

In my experience, the only way resistance is overcome consistently is through building a culture of discipline. To say something is a part of your culture is to say that it’s something you value. So, discipline has to be something you truly begin to embrace and value in your life.

Discipline isn’t just for athletes, the military, or straight-A students; discipline is for everybody. It’s something everyone needs. In fact, discipline is the vehicle that gets you to your goals. And it’s ironic but true; the more disciplined you become, the easier life gets.

Is discipline on your radar? Would you ever consider creating a culture around it? Is there an area you find yourself needing to become more disciplined? 

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The Upside of a Disciplined Life

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest… for those who have been trained by it.”
– Hebrews 12:11

 

It’s easy to dwell on the downside of discipline. In the moment, discipline is dreadful. It hurts. It strains. It taxes us in mind and body and isn't fun. That is why, I believe, so many people steer clear of it. 

While discipline repels at first brush, it rewards the one who sticks with it. Here are a handful of rewards I've received whenever I have managed to stick with a discipline.

• Joy
• Growth
• Satisfaction  
• Self-Respect  
• Confidence

The next time you find yourself in the valley of decision regarding whether to follow through on a discipline or not, don’t forget to think about the upside

Yep, it’s going to be hard. And you’re right, it’s going to be drudgery at times. But, upon completion, you will surely reap a satisfying harvest.

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Sweet Fruit is Often the Result of Bitter Sowing

Growth comes with both sweet and bitter moments. No true growth experience ever was achieved without episodes of bitter sowing. The laws of nature and common sense dictate: you can’t have one without the other. 

If growth were all sweet all the time, everyone would be on board. If it were all bitter, there would be few takers, if any. 

You can’t avoid the bitter parts; you can only choose when you want to experience them. 

Wisdom says bitter moments are best experienced at the outset (Think sowing), whereas the sweet rewards are best reserved for the end (Think harvest).

I’ve chosen sweet first and bitter last more times than I’d like to admit. Remember; you can’t avoid the bitter in life. Everyone has to go through it. The only decision you get to make is when. First or last? Beginning or end? The choice is yours. 

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Self-Mastery Through Self-Surrender

“The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful.”
— Plato

It’s one of growth's great ironies: Self-mastery is achieved through self-surrender.

Self-surrender is all about subjugating our will to something external, something other than ourselves. We all agree, there are aspects of our nature that are not as they should be, and that need to be mended. 

I know myself. I’ve been vengeful, jealous, greedy, lustful, prideful, callous, negligent, and downright lazy more times than I care to admit. 

What you and I must come to see is that these flaws, misdeeds, and transgressions are the very roadblocks to growth, mastery and more. And it is you and me who are responsible for mastering what’s inordinate inside. We ignore ourselves at our own peril.
 
Say, “No” enough times to the wrong things, and “Yes” enough to the right things, and mastery is soon enough realized.  

But, self-mastery isn’t a finish line, it’s a starting point. It’s a foundation on which you can build something beautiful, unique and lasting. 

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Toiling Upward in the Night

“The heights by great men reached and kept,
Were not attained by sudden flight.
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I first came across Longfellow's quote on the last few pages of the book, The Essential Wooden. It was a favorite of Coach John Wooden's (I think it’s one of my favorite now too).

The essential message is this: reaching the heights is grueling work. There is no fast track. Toiling is the name of the game. If you run from it, you're running away from the very thing that has the power to get you where you want to go.  

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A Touch of the Ascetic

I always wake up on December 26th with an eagerness for some austerity. I can easily overdo it on Christmas. I always go overboard on the food, decorations, and gifts. 

During this last week of the year, as you begin thinking about goals and resolutions, consider mixing some form of self-denial into them. Yes, self-discipline is typically inherent in most resolutions, but I think an extra touch of the ascetic can be good for the soul. And perhaps necessary after a month-long merriment of excess.

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Every Day is a Good Day for Growth

80% percent of life is showing up.
— Woody Allen

A Growth Time is the staple in the successful person’s schedule. All successful people know that success is only a byproduct of value. Becoming valuable and creating value are the keys to success. There’s no getting around it, you increase your value through consistent effort over time. Those who consistently show up for growth are those who will experience success.

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