Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Continuing to improve your self-discipline.

Post 392 - “I talk a lot about the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. You really only have two choices in life. And I’d rather have the pain of discipline than feel the regret.” - Joseph J. Plumeri, chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings.

• Hard work pays off. Some people do what’s easiest and try to avoid it — and that’s exactly why you should do the opposite. "The big secret in life is that there's no big secret. Whatever your goals, you can get there if you’re willing to work hard" according to Oprah Winfrey. Experience shows that hard challenging work is highly correlated with exceptional results. So, make it your ally instead of your enemy. Yes, you can be lucky once in a while and find an easy way to succeed. But if you're not industrious, you won't be able to maintain that success and you won't be able to repeat it. When you discipline yourself to do what's difficult, you're able to get results that are denied to everyone else. The willingness to do what's difficult gives you the key to a special private treasure room. The greater your capacity for hard work, the more rewards fall within your grasp. The deeper you can dig, the more treasure you can potentially find.

• Being industrious doesn’t necessarily mean doing work that’s challenging or difficult. It simply means putting in the time. In life, there are many tasks that aren’t necessarily difficult or exciting, but they collectively require a significant investment of your time. If you ignore them, you'll likely end up with a mess on your hands. You can be industrious doing easy work or hard work. The more you discipline yourself to be industrious, the more value you squeeze out of the time that's available to you. Time is a constant, but your personal efficiency is not. Despite all the technology that's available to potentially make us more efficient, your personal productivity is still your greatest bottleneck. Don’t look to technology to make you more productive. If you're not productive without technology, you won’t be productive with it - indeed, it will only mask your bad habits.

• The fifth and final pillar of self-discipline is persistence - the ability to keep at it regardless of your feelings. You press on even when you feel like quitting. Listen to Calvin Coolidge on this subject: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." Persistence ultimately generates its own motivation. If you keep on keeping on, you’ll eventually get results, and these results can be very motivating. For example, you're likely to become a lot more enthusiastic about dieting and exercising once you’ve lost the first 10 pounds and feel your clothes fitting you better.

When activities persist and become habits, less and less self-discipline is necessary to accomplish them. As an example, when you were younger, your parents had to remind you to brush your teeth every day after meals. Eventually, this activity became a habit. Now, hopefully, brushing your teeth doesn't require willpower anymore because you're on “automatic pilot.”

As a general rule, persistence of action comes from persistence of vision. When you’re really clear about what you want to accomplish in such a way that your vision doesn’t change very much, you’ll be consistent in your actions. And that consistency of action will produce consistency of results.

No comments: