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Leadership Thought #250 – The Importance of Personal Discipline

November 21, 2011

Free Woman With White Sunvisor Running Stock Photo

As somewhat of a free spirit myself, I have always found discipline a challenge.  My inclination is to resist structure and “wing it” or “go with the flow.”  However, as I have aged, I’ve realized that this mindset can work against me, especially in certain areas of my life.  There are realities that I’ve come to accept and strive to embrace with varying degrees of success.

  • If you want to be healthy, then you need to schedule regular check-ups, workout on a consistent basis, and watch what you eat
  • If you want to have economic security, then you need to live within your means, manage to a budget, and minimize impulse purchases
  • If you want to make a difference in your community, then you need to volunteer your time and money and make this commitment a standing part of your schedule
  • If you want to be an active and engaged parent, then you need to be available for your kids and their activities and proactively manage your work-life balance with this in mind
  • If you want to be successful in your professional life, then you need to continually invest in your own growth and development, use your time well and prioritize the most important activities/responsibilities daily
  • If you want to have a successful relationship with another person, then you must regularly make time for this person and not take them or the relationship for granted
  • If you want to live a religious or spiritual life, then you must explore and cultivate this part of yourself through ongoing study, dialogue, and practice

There are too many things competing for our time as adults.  It is easy to get lost in the fog of responsibility and fall behind.  If we are honest with ourselves, we end up using our time very inefficiently and often make it up as we go along.  As a result, there is usually some level of imbalance in our life as we prioritize what is most pressing or convenient.

The problem is that gaps unattended only grow with time and at some point, the chasm becomes too difficult to navigate.  The very thing we value most, our own independence and freedom, become victims of the personal stress created by not being disciplined about our decisions, time, and activities.  Paradoxically, we end up with the outcomes we most wanted to avoid.