Discipline & Two Kinds of Freedom

I was reading a recent AdvantEdge newsletter from Nightingale Conant and wanted to excerpt a paragraph from something Zig Ziglar wrote about discipline:

Stay Disciplined in your Approach

In today’s social climate, many people look with disfavor on the word discipline because they simply do not understand that discipline means “to instruct or educate, to inform the mind, to prepare by instructing in correct principles and habits.” No one who achieves greatness does so without discipline. Sybil Stanton, in her beautiful book The Twenty-Five Hour Woman, accurately states that “discipline is not on your back, needling you with imperatives; it is at your side, nudging you with incentives.” It’s true that when you discipline yourself to do the things you need to do, when you need to do them, the day’s going to come when you can do the things you want to do, when you want to do them. It’s also true that life is tough, but when you are tough on yourself, life will be infinitely easier on you.

Today many people want to be free to do as they please, but consider this: If you take the train off the tracks, it’s free — but it can’t go anywhere. Take the steering wheel out of the automobile, and it’s under the control of no one, but it is useless. The reality is that until the sailor disciplines himself to be obedient to the compass, he will have to stay within sight of shore. However, once he is obedient to that compass, he can go anywhere in the world the sailboat will take him. Yes, discipline is the missing ingredient that will make the difference in your life. Discipline yourself today so you can have a better life tomorrow.

I love how Zig brings the concepts of discipline and freedom together. Without “discipline” one can call themselves free, but free to do what?

Rejecting discipline does bring freedom.

But it’s a certain kind of freedom: freedom from.

Freedom from positive and constructive habits. Freedom from getting your work done so you can then do pleasurable activities “guilt” free. Freedom from the feelings of peace of mind and integrity that come from knowing and honoring your authentic desires and priorities.

On the other hand, discipline grants a different sort of freedom: freedom to.

When you are disciplined you are free to enjoy both your work and play because you know you’ve done what’s necessary with the former and that you will have time for the latter.

Discipline is really just good habits. Good habits come from knowing who you are and what you want.

When you haven’t taken the time to suss out what you want and who and what you are, you’re rudderless and subject to the shifting wind. You don’t have the power and energy that comes from Personal clarity.

I work with all my clients to get the basics down first. The “who are you really?” comes from really examining your self-esteem and self-concept. Understanding* where the mis-apprehensions are in those areas is critical to the next step: naming what you want.

The “what you really want?” creates a practical, here-and-now energy and drive to both create and execute a personal success plan.

When you have that plan, that well-founded and well-formed plan, then you’ll have discipline in abundance and be free to be, do and have anything you want.

***

* Of course, it’s not enough to merely understand that you don’t like yourself or don’t see yourself as whole and capable; I work with my clients to see – without any fluff, wishful thinking or mumbo-jumbo – their true worthiness and likability and clarify particular strengths and talents

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