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Thought Leaders Unpacked -> Clutch #2: Discipline

thought-leaders“Discipline is almost always a battle against yourself.”

If there were one character quality or virtue that I both recognize my own need to develop and feel motivated to develop, it would be discipline.

Paul Sullivan illustrates the power of discipline for withstanding, keeping a level head, and sticking to one’s game plan in the midst of enormous pressure. Having the ability to perform under pressure is, of course, the premise of his book.

His stories are strong and persuasive.

Having conceded that, what I think is called for at this point from us reading is an honest personal assessment about how close (or, more likely, far away) from these examples we are in our own mastery of a character quality such as discipline.

It can be easy (I know it is for me) to want to identify with the “hero” of the story. In principle, I heartily agree with all that was said and done by these masterful practitioners. You’re nodding too, I can tell.

The issue, though, on the path toward mastering discipline is how to learn the skill and developing it to the depth of a reliable character quality.

Here we probe beyond the scope of our text.

What exactly are we trying to develop when we speak of discipline? What is involved in becoming more disciplined?

The results are enormously attractive and the outcomes are hugely impactful.

But we are reading of people who have spent a career, if not a lifetime, building, honing, and refining their capacities to exercise discipline. These are not quick adjustments or bursts of good intentions.

Character formation is work. Work requires effort. Those efforts need to be practiced over time.

There are three things to work on there. One is the willingness to make an extended effort. Second is to choose the forms those efforts are going to take. What skills or practices am I going to undertake to develop discipline? And third is consistent and repeated practice over time.

Addressing my willingness, choosing a specific activity, and practicing over time.

In one regard, that doesn’t seem so daunting. We can take on three simple aspects to the process. Can’t we?

Yet in another regard, those of us having yet to develop much discipline have managed to avoid doing so somehow. Change is difficult. Change takes place slowly. Are we up for an extended, incremental process?

I am developing a coaching structure for those of you who are interested in building a deeper capacity for discipline into your repertoires of work skills and into your characters.

Contact me if finding some instruction, structure, and support for developing the core character quality of discipline is attractive to you.

On your side,

- Karl Edwards

Each week I post my reflections from one chapter of Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t by Paul Sullivan. My reflections are my own and are intended to generate conversation, catalyze additional thinking and encourage mutual learning.
If you are just joining the discussion now, welcome! Catch up on the entire series here.


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