One of the greatest authors on the topic of self-discipline is unquestionably Brian Tracy. He defines this virtue as doing what you need to do even if you don’t feel like it. It falls along the lines of another great book by Susan Jeffers: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. These books are great, and they will help you to accomplish things, however, they will fall short if you want to get more than mediocre or – at best – good results. Here is my advice on creating high-performance and the reasoning why self-discipline alone does not work. Don’t misunderstand, I do say a certain amount of self-discipline can help, but it should not be what you lay as a foundation of success.
1. Self-discipline or willpower is a limited resource
You can only utilize your will to some extend and then it is depleted. Bob Proctor likens it to a muscle that you need to train, and you can become good at it. If your entire performance is based on willpower you won’t get much done – or you suffer from burnout. If you spend time doing what you don’t want to do, you can usually feel within minutes how a task sucks life right out of you. And, life is too short to base success on this.
2. The quality of forced work is never great
As you do things you don’t like doing – and usually don’t care about, – what is your guess of how well you perform in these tasks? Not great. Of course, not. If you base your entire success on self-discipline you just made it ten times harder just because there is competition out there that likes what they do - and therefore, they deliver ten times the quality of what you are capable of producing because you don’t like the work. The solution?
3. There is always somebody else who enjoys doing what you don’t like doing
For me personally, it is accounting and office work. I don’t like to do managerial work. Now, there are some aspects of it I cannot not do but I try to limit them. There are people who enjoy filing and managing offices. In their passion, they get miracles done. In the TV series “Suits,” Harvey is the closer, the person who gets things done and who works with clients and makes deals. Jessica on the other hand, the managing partner of the firm, has a very different skill set which is focused on keeping the firm organized and running. Or Donna, Harvey’s assistant, is a talent at managing and organizing everything around Harvey. In other words, try to limit unloved errands and tasks, and try to find a way to give it to people who enjoy doing them.
4.Focus on what you want and find the joy first, before you do what it takes
Yes, there will be times you have to perform tasks you don’t enjoy as much as others. It’s life. But by all means, try to find the reason why first and look forward to it. Let your why so big that the how doesn’t hurt so much. This is the secret to success on the long run. If you have a vision that is big and compelling enough and you move there emotionally first, you will find a way to make it.
The goal for you is to be able to say, “I love what I do, and I do what I love.” Let this be an ideal you work towards. And let’s keep it simple, shall we? Let’s call self-discipline, doing the things that improve your future situation. In other words, it can be positive and fun, too. Think about what and why you could improve in regard to results. But don’t make it about numbers or milestones, make it about feelings first. That’s where the magic happens.
Author: Marc Breetzke, M.A., M.A.
MB Inspirations is your trusted advisor to increase business performance especially in sales and human resources. We consult, train and coach companies and individuals strategically, systematically, and sustainably in order to continuously and never-endingly improve productivity.
Marc Breetzke, M.A., M.A. is the founder of MB Inspirations and he works with businesses and organizations worldwide as a leading-edge business strategist, consultant and lecturer.
Florian Dietzel, B.A. most recently joined the MBI-Team as Junior Sales Consultant to assist our clients. Please don’t hesitate and send us your questions, comments, and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.