Mental and moral training, either under one’s own guidance or under that of another; the cultivation of the mind and formation of the manners; instruction and government, comprehending the communication of knowledge and the regulation of practice; specifically, training to act in accordance with rules; drill.
How many of you, dear readers, have seen the classic comedy Kindergarten Cop with Arnold Schwarzenegger?
One of my favorite parts of the film is when the Kindergarten class he’s teaching- as an undercover cop- has just gone wild. This is a foreign occurrence for Mr. Kimble. The chaos that reigns in the room of five year olds is too much for him. He sits them all done and with a clarity and firmness, he sets down the standards that the room will henceforth operate under.
He says one oft-quoted line here:
You lack discipline.
I say this line is oft-quoted because in my household, we say it to each other a lot. Most times it’s in a jocular manner and we all laugh, but sometimes it’s the prodding that one of us needs to get back on the ball.
Discipline is tough. Discipline demands telling your emotions to take a backseat. Scratch that. Discipline mostly tells your emotions to get the heck out of the car all together.
Discipline is about a commitment outside yourself. Even if it’s a commitment you’re making to yourself for yourself, it will demand that you ignore yourself at times. Like those times when you just don’t feel like doing something. I guarantee you that there are more times than not when I can come up with every reason why I can’t sit down to write. However, I’ve made a commitment to myself, and what I feel at any given moment has absolutely nothing to do with that commitment.
That’s where discipline comes in. An etymological trip through the origins of the word discipline sheds light on what this word really means. Though it derives from the Latin disciplina meaning instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge, the more interesting facet of this word comes from the derivation from it’s Latin roots into Old English. The word þeodscipe from Old English means treatment that corrects or punishes. But a deeper understanding exists philologically here; this treatment occurs because it facilitates an order necessary for instruction.
There is an order necessary in which we can truly learn and grow and flourish. From the Latin ordinem, order means row, line, rank; series, pattern, arrangement, routine.
A routine. A customary course of action or round of occupation. A fixed habit. A method in action. All these things are discipline.
A lack of discipline leads to failure. It is not enough to try, you must do. Over and over and over again.
At the start of 2019, I declared that this year is the year that I will be fearless (see 2019: I Will Be Fearless post here). And one significant piece to that puzzle is DISCIPLINE. Because once you establish a discipline for yourself, on those days when emotions tumble and tumult within you, you have a set routine in place. You’ve got the motions down. So, whether you feel like it or not, you can just GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS! That’s a part of just doing it. And, once you start going through the motions in your discipline, you’ll soon start to see your emotions kow-tow.
What have you committed to, dear reader? Me, I’ve committed to finishing my first novel- I mean, so finished that I can send it off to agents. That’s the commitment. And the discipline necessary for that commitment has been hard. Fear and doubt are no joke. It’s a daily fight, but I’m winning those battles more often than not. And I’m winning them because I’ve made the commitment and I refuse to stop. I’m winning because I am disciplined.
I write everyday. Whether it’s good. Whether it’s bad. I write. That’s the commitment. That’s the discipline. Whether I see the desired results that day or the next or the next. I write. And, do you know what? My writing is improving, even on those low days when I think it’s absolute rubbish. It’s not. I’m getting better everyday. And I’m getting closer to my goal everyday, too.
Discipline will pick you back up when you fall down. Discipline will provide the routine you need after you’ve failed and don’t feel like going on. Discipline is the one surety you guarantee yourself that you will ultimately succeed in your goal. So, today, take a moment to remind yourself of the goals you want to see accomplished. And then, with those goals in mind, ask yourself, where do I lack discipline?