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3 – 4 days a week, rain, hail or shine – I jump in the car and head down to a little hotel near my house where there’s a gym. Not a flash gym mind you – the equipment’s a little run down and the machines aren’t as new as they could be. The lights are dim and there’s nobody there to see what goes on. It’s often cold and uninviting. In fact, frequently I would rather not go. But I’m in my 50’s now and my goal is to be young for my age. It’s not vanity. I just want to look my best and be my best. I figure a little effort won’t hurt on a cold winters morning, but when I think about getting up, it hurts but then I think of my two boys – they see everything I do. They will imitate what I do and set themselves up for life by following the patterns I have for them. So it’s important that they see Dad being disciplined about his goals.
The beauty of showing up regularly at the gym, no matter how I feel, is the payoff of feeling good about myself – knowing that I have been disciplined about my goals and that the significant others in my life, like my kids, have benefited from my discipline.
What do you need to be more disciplined about to increase your effectiveness as a leader?
What are you procrastinating about that you know you should do?
How will your discipline increase your influence?
DISCIPINE: DOING IT WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO DO IT.
Discipline means, apart from anything else, having routines: doing the same things all the time. Not the things that unsuccessful people do, but the things unsuccessful people won’t do. That also means doing things when you don’t want to do them.
My routines often drive my wife crazy, but at least I have them. I wasn’t always like this. I’m a Sanguine personality and I love people. I am not, by nature, a disciplined person, though I do love hard work. But in building our business I soon realized that without discipline, achieving my vision was just wishful thinking. As a result, I have taught myself to be disciplined.
I once asked a top Australian fund manager – responsible for billions of dollars worth of equity funds – what his work habits were for a typical day. He told me that every night he prepares his desk by clearing it. Then he compiles a list, in order of priority, of his top ten tasks for the following morning. He makes sure to list at the top his hardest work, the work he least wants to do – and he always completes those tasks before moving on to the tasks he enjoys doing. Now that’s discipline.
What daily activities do you need to re-prioritise?
In any work, with any attempt to bring your vision to reality, there will be odious chores. Discipline helps you complete these tasks, as does the motivating knowledge that they are crucial to achieving your vision. You may fear cold calling. You may detest sales presentations. The voice of discipline will tell you to do them consistently and with passion: by doing so you will succeed.
SUCCESS MEANS DEVELOPING DAILY HABITS
When someone asks me what are the keys of success, I respond with a question of my own, “ What are your daily habits? I don’t care what your vision is; what are you doing to achieve it daily?” Unless a person is ready to answer that question, all other discussion is a waste of time. When I look at people’s daily habits, I am usually able to ascertain how committed they are to their vision and whether they will go on to achieve it.
What are your daily habits?
The Australian Women’s Soccer Team, the Matilda’s are currently competing in the Women’s Soccer World Cup in Canada in Group D, aka “The Group of Death”(USA ranked number 2nd, Sweden ranked 5th and Nigeria who are the African Champions). They are very serious about showing the world what they are made of and how they’ve grown as individuals and as a team. Their daily habits are driving their behaviours, which is resulting in higher-level thinking.
Their preparation for the World Cup has been intense, with all members of the team focusing their daily habits on achieving the vision. They agreed on the required behaviours needed to make a successful team and to develop a winning team culture, and they have committed and been disciplined to replicating them.
They have adapted their life to give their football the best chance – whether they are living at home, renting, working, going to university or college and how they spend a night out – everything. All members on the team have committed to the rigorous daily training – in fact the girls have been virtually training full time for the last 4 months to prepare for the World Cup, with all of the girls making huge personal sacrifices to do so. Everyone has been very disciplined about all their actions and daily habits. The have taken on the behaviours and daily habits of soccer players who want to win the World Cup. The Matilda’s only adopted this way of thinking 4 months ago and look how they are already performing. Imagine what they’ll be like in 12 months from now! It takes time to develop a winning team culture and for team members to fully adopt new daily habits, behaviours and thinking. It’s not an overnight sensation but the sooner you start, the sooner you see results.
DAILY HABITS DEVELOP ACCOUNTABILITY
Winners want to be held accountable and they love to get structured accountability in place. International motivator, Pat Mesiti, has this to say in his book, Dreamers Never Sleep:
“Sacrifice. Discipline. Commitment. Perseverance. Faithfulness. Loyalty. Delayed gratification. Feeling nauseous yet? These words conjure up mental images of pain, agony, and years of frustration in search of a dream. They’re becoming less and less popular, especially to the Leisure-Pleasure Generation of today”
If it’s that hard to develop discipline, how will any of us do it? Only by being kept accountable!
Accountability keeps us moving towards our goals and allowing yourself to be challenged by someone who is independent is the most effective strategy to grow accountability.
All the members of The Matilda’s keep each other accountable for their actions. They are a team and they perform as a team, on and off the field. What each person does, impacts the other members of the team so they help each other to keep their commitment to the behaviours, disciplines and routines they agreed upon. My leadership role as an independent leadership consultant working one on one with each of the players and formalising this process has increased the individual and team level of accountability.
There are many talented sportspeople who will never be champions. Not because they lack the ability. They just don’t have the disciplined routines necessary to successfully execute their vision/dreams. The same is true of many Australian business people who have the potential to achieve great things but lack the discipline of the required daily habits to grow in leadership capabilities.
Your daily habits ultimately will grow your hunger to want to lead and not manage in all areas of your life.
What do you need to be more disciplined about?
Where does your thinking need to change when it comes to discipline?