Self discipline: The price of Excellence

01st of September, 2018


The price of excellence is discipline.

The cost of mediocrity is disappointment.” William Arthur Ward

If we wanted to point out a common feature in the lives of the most important people in the world, the most charismatic leaders, the greatest thinkers, philosophers, inventors, we would probably fall into discipline. Undoubtedly, all these great people changed the world by experiencing a disciplined life, a great self-discipline in essence.

Discipline is the art of keeping your path, adhering to your plan, exhausting your mind. It is a skill that can be taught, a fact that can be proven by its Latin roots. In particular, ‘discipline’ derives from the word ‘disciplina’ meaning training, learning and growing.

I have been wondering how many times we have listened to ourselves and others saying how many things we want to do; we want to lose weight, we want to quit smoking, we want to look for a better job, we want money, we want respect, we want everything. Of course, we want! Wanting is the easy part, but where is the action?

If we are serious enough to fulfil our dreams, we must bridge the gap between our desires and our actions. If our ‘wills’ and our actions are not effectively synchronized, our desires will forever remain unfulfilled dreams. In other words, we cannot achieve anything in life by just thinking about ‘wanting’; we have to go out in the arena and keep doing the hard work that will bring us closer to our goals. There are no shortcuts. On the contrary, the journey is long and painful because we make ourselves do what we should do, when we should do it, whether we feel like it or not and our only powerful tool along this way is self-discipline.

Surprisingly, self-discipline is a form of freedom; freedom from laziness and lethargy, total exemption from the expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness, fear and doubt. Self-discipline allows us to feel our individuality, our inner power, our talent and our skills. It teaches us to become masters, not slaves of our thoughts and feelings.

Self discipline is a combination of persistence and faith. When you carry on with what you have to do, whether or not you like it that is self discipline. You want to lose weight but you hate the thought of exercising and you love desserts; well, exercising is not something you have to like or dislike, eating right is not something you have to love or hate. You just have to get on with it and do it. If you stop putting up with your mind’s misconduct, then it will start behaving.

Disciplining our own mind is our personal problem and we alone can solve it. We all know, it is easier and more comfortable to deal with others’ problems. As the great philosopher Aristotle said “Men are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves”. Self discipline is a confrontation with our own selves; perform excellence when no one is there looking, when no one is there to motivate us, when no one is there to share our pain. It is only us and our rival opponent –our self- competing for superiority.

Eventually, it all starts within; we need to practice on self respect to manage self discipline and we need to accept correction to welcome responsibility. Besides, falling into mistakes should not cause any fear. We are human after all.  Therefore, we should forget the mistake and remember the lesson. In other words, we should learn to forgive our self and move forward. However, not always is everything in line with the plan. Think about it. This would describe a futile life with no interests or challenges included. As a matter of fact, it is imperative and of vital importance to experience ups and downs, successes and failures. We become stronger when we ‘walk’ through them. It might be easy to acquire guilt, anger or frustration, but these feelings will not help us create improved self-discipline.

The key is to keep moving. Self motivation will get us going and self discipline will keep us growing and only when self discipline is effectively applied, in other words, when your ‘wish’ and your ‘will’ become one, then you will have paid the price of Excellence.