When we think of “discipline,” most of us have an immediate negative reaction. Okay, at least I do. Yet, somewhere deep down, we know that discipline can be a good thing. It’s just that being disciplined doesn’t sound like any fun.
However as we go through this life, we know we are better for being disciplined at whatever goal we’re striving for. As you may know, I’m a big fan of tennis. The Australian Open finished up this past weekend, and lo and behold, we have two first time Australian Open champions for the men and the women. One of them is a first-time grand slam champion, period.
The men’s champion is from Switzerland — but not the Swiss player any tennis fan is familiar with. This year’s champion is Stanislas Wawrinka. Obviously, for many years, Stan has been in the shadow of the great Roger Federer. How do you live with that? But did Stan give up the sport he loved? No. What did he do? He worked harder. That takes discipline, and determination.
Much was said about Stan’s tattoo on his arm. It’s a quote from Samuel Beckett that reads, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.”
What do you think of those words? It didn’t matter that you failed. Try again, probably fail again, but fail better. This time, after 36 tries at a grand slam title, he didn’t fail. On top of that he beat the top two players in tennis to get there.
The Olympics are right around the corner. In the coming days, we’ll read and hear a lot of stories of determination and what it took to even make it to the Olympics. There will be some that fail. There will be others that are just happy to be there and experience it.
But all arrived there through discipline. Talent alone wasn’t enough.
I know with my writers friends, we have our anagram of BICHOK – backside in chair, hands on keyboard (or variations to that). Writers can’t just write when the creative muse shows up. Nothing would get done! Writers need to be disciplined and at their desks daily. They need to stretch and exercise that writing muscle to make it stronger and to work the way it needs to.
Sound familiar? We all seem to complain about working out and going to the gym. But we know when we regularly exercise, we feel better. It takes discipline. We are stronger for going.
To watch what we eat takes will-power, i.e. discipline. As one who has battled weight issues, lost a great deal of weight, and is now fighting not to gain it back, it takes discipline. I can’t eat the way I did before — that’s how I got heavy! I can’t quit going to the gym or working out. Yet, there are days when I grumble and think of every excuse not to work out. Why? My health and my life changed by changing my eating habits and working out. I feel great when I finish a workout. But sometimes I have to drag myself to get there. It doesn’t make sense, when I know how good it is for me.
Being disciplined is good for us. We reap the rewards of a disciplined life, whether through physical activity, writing, even praying and having devotional time daily.
We need to re-train ourselves to think of discipline as something positive. To be determined (determination is considered a positive thing), to be devoted. Why are those “d” words okay, and discipline is not?
So, maybe the first change we need to make is in our attitude. Let’s be determined to make discipline something positive.
What steps can you take to live a more determined, purposeful, and yes, disciplined life?