This is one of the most profound concepts I’ve learned from John Maxwell. In this book Developing the Leader Within You 2.0, he shares ten of the most powerful principles that can help you grow as a leader. One of which is, of course, self-discipline. John defines it as the price you pay to be the leader. And I couldn’t agree more, self-discipline or lack thereof is what can make or break a leader. Why? Because it’s the prerequisite for every other attribute you must have and practice as a leader. It’s not just a stepping stone but the foundation of one’s leadership.
Self-discipline is one of the most difficult habits you can built. And it surely cannot be achieved in a single day. Nor is it an event. Like all other things (that I personally value), it’s a practice. There are and always will be off days when you’re just not able to exercise discipline. And then there will be days when practising it just looks easy. The ideal mindset is to accept, acknowledge and to play along. The more you’re able to delay instant gratification, the better you get. Over time. Not right away.
One crucial element that matters the most when developing this habit is consistency. You’ve got to show up and practice self-discipline everyday not just when convenient. Like anything else practiced consistency, your habits become stronger and more embedded to your daily being.
I believe the journey between your potential as a leader to becoming a high-performing leader depends on how consistent you’ve been with self-discipline. The longer you work on your self-discipline, the faster you’re able to achieve your leadership potential and then some. And some of the finest leaders of our times are still working on their self-discipline, every single day. It’s just like any other artist working on their craft. They don’t ever think they’ve ‘arrived,’ but that they’re always evolving. Perhaps that’s where their freedom lies, in their daily practice of showing up and being an artist.
Compounding doesn’t just work with money but also your habits. You’ve got to keep showing up. Every single day. That’s what consistency is all about. Jocko Willink says it the best, “discipline equals freedom.” (And I highly recommend that you read his book.)
What’s your excuse?