Imagine you had a project to do – at home or school and you were told that you could have someone help you. How exciting to have a teammate, someone that will help you get the job done more quickly. Lets say the job is getting the family room cleaned up – toys picked up, blankets folded, pillows arranged, floor vacuumed.
But when your helper came in they started playing with the toys, even got more things out, turned the television on and left you with no help? They were not disciplined enough to work before they played. They were distracted by all of the other things to do. Are you feeling disappointed, upset, even frustrated that the job was not getting done?
When teams work together, keep their discipline, stay focused on the job at hand – they will finsh the job quickly and have time to do other things that they enjoy. Our family is that team. In fact they are our most important team. None of the team members want to let the others down by playing when their is a job to do. So here is your practice: keep your focus on the job at hand, keep your eyes and head on the job at hand, and be sure to work before you play. Doing so will make you a great team member – a great member of the family.
At the beginning of our classes, we invite students to practice discipline with “We are going to control our mind, body and mouth.” Sometimes I ask them which one is the hardest? For each of us the answer to that question may be different. Invariably the students will say “mouth”. While I personally would agree with that answer, we can show discipline in many ways and for each of us the most difficult one may be different.
For some being still – physical stillness when needed is difficult. For others we may want to talk when it is appropriate to be quiet, and for others our mind may be off dreaming in another world when we need to focus on the task at hand. If we are able to keep our feet still, be quiet when we need to listen or focus with the eyes on the teacher – We are practicing discipline.
What techniques do you use to practice “discipline” or self control? Do you exercise, step away to a quiet place, tell yourself to pay attention? Could you take a few deep breaths while you think about how you will conduct yourself or how you will speak to others. Knowing ourselves, and who we can be around, where we can be our best, and how we work at our best, will help us to learn and demonstrate our personal discipline.
Discipline is a funny character, as the results of having or not having discipline are seldom seen in the immediate time frame that we experience. I often use the example of maintaining a car. If I choose to forego changing the oil in the car – the results are not immediate. You may drive the car for 50,000 miles before bad things happen. The lack of discipline to stay on the schedule for oil changes will catch up to you.
If you choose to not brush your teeth for several days – your teeth will not fall out immediately – but over time with continued lack of discipline for brushing your teeth will end up costing you your dental health. In fact if you choose not to practice any skill, it may not show up right away – I am sure you can think of many examples – but eventually you will suffer the consequences of not being your best or losing something that may have had some level of importance to you.
Discipline though will enable you to do the small things that do not have immediate rewards so that you can achieve the bigger dream. It may be skill based, sports, musical instrument or it may be in math or the sciences. Whatever the arena, our willingness to train ourselves to do what needs to be done – when it needs to be done will ultimately pay off in our meeting our goals, and being productive at the highest level.
The opposite – the lack of discipline will lead us to procrastinate, play and flit around from one idea to another – but it will never bring us the satisfaction of mastery of any skill or ideal.
Carefully cultivate your character with Discipline.
Do you want to have fun so much in your life that you have given up on the idea of commitment and follow through – because the work has gotten boring or frustrating? It was Zig Ziglar who said, “It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.”
Many struggle with the perseverance factor. Discipline, keeps us on track, resisting distractions, not allowing ourselves to be blown about with every new thing or idea that comes along. This is one of those virtues that I personally struggle with, being interested in many different issues affecting families and children.
In the past I have called it growth and evolution – but sometimes I wonder if it is that or if it is a lack of discipline. Recently I looked at this issue again and have refocused my efforts on the family. What is the one thing that you are focused on that requires your commitment and discipline to reach your goal? Whatever it may be – You and I have the practice of self-discipline and the self control to make wise choices.
If the way to learn to be disciplined is to use the the 3 W rule:
I want… I will… I won’t…
then the next part of discipline is to determine what our personal rules are, otherwise known as our personal “I rules”. These ‘I rules’ are about rules that we have for ourselves. It is what we believe is important for our life. They are personal and should not be set by others or their wishes.
I may have a rule that says that I will always work hard when learning a new skill. Others may have a rule that says “I will make everything I do fun” or “I will be kind no matter what others say or do.” All adults have these rules, even if they have never verbalized them for themselves or others. It is the way we personally approach everything in life, the way we do things.
Our children will have or create their own rules, influenced by those around them. Don’t we as their parent want to be that influence? As a parent I would not like to leave them to make up their rules based on what they see in the media or what their friends or neighbors are doing.
All of these factors will influence them however. Therefore we must be aware and careful about who and what we surround ourselves and them with, both in media, friends, coaches and teachers. If we as a family have a mission, if we have our family core values and we are able to say, “In our family we do this or that in this way….” our children will understand the expectation we have set up, not just for them – but for ourselves – for our family.
This is Discipline and yes this is Self Discipline too.
Discipline is about getting things done in an orderly and efficient way. There are so many distractions that can look so good to us, both as an adult and a child, that puts up obstacles to completing what we really would like to accomplish. Here is a simple way to remind our children and ourselves to stay on task. We call it the 3 W’s. Ask yourself the following –
What – What is our goal? What do we want to accomplish or learn
Will – What will you do or do you need to do to reach your goal?
Won’t – What are you determined to not do so that you can stay on task?
Here is an example that you can use with a student:
What: I want to earn an A in my math class
Will: I will ask for help when needed, do extra practice homework, increase my efforts at studying
Won’t: I won’t give up trying, get distracted by having the TV on while doing homework
Now you have a plan to stay disciplined for your goal of earning an A in your math class. Try this with any goal, including family goals. The family may have a goal of a special trip or another special activity. Let everyone state what they will and won’t need to do so that the goal comes true for the family.
Discipline can be made fun for all and become a life long way of accomplishing goals.