From a usage perspective, the word discipline sometimes gets a bad rap. We use it to refer to bad behavior (“he has discipline issues”). Or even worse, the resultant punishment (“we had to discipline him because of his bad behavior”).
The fact is that our negative reactions to the word discipline occur due to episodes where it is lacking in the individual. When it is used appropriately, self- discipline (the most important kind) actually delivers enormous benefits with minimal costs. Self-discipline allows ordinary people to reach extraordinary goals!
What Does Self-Discipline Look Like For Children?
To help even our youngest kids in class, we define self-discipline as “choosing to do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way.” It is proactive in nature (meaning WE choose it ahead of time) rather than reactive (it is FORCED upon us at that time).
- The right thing: This can be eating vegetables, doing your homework, or practicing your sport routinely. When we choose to do the right thing ourselves, we set ourselves on the path toward our goals. We don’t have to deal with the frustrations that occur when we do the wrong thing. We don’t have to spend time/energy/money on getting back on track.
- The right time: When we do the right thing such as doing our homework, saving for retirement, or maintaining our health but we wait until the proverbial last minute, we increase our stress and reduce the benefits that come from the right action. We do our homework but because we waited until the last minute, we didn’t have time to really grasp the subject. Maybe, we save for retirement but not with enough time for compounding to bring the most returns. We get on a diet/exercise program but not before we begin to exhibit major health problems.
- The right way: When we do the right thing at the right time but in the wrong way, we hamper the benefits that we should get to enjoy. We go to all the sport practices on time but we never give our best effort so don’t see the improvements that we should. Perhaps, we eat vegetables with every meal but also reward ourselves with lots of dessert after. We always wear our seat belt but incorrectly because of comfort and suffer more substantial injuries in the wreck.
Self-Discipline Is Not The Same As Self-Control
Some people will equate self-discipline with self-control but we treat these as separate tools. We define self-control as “choosing NOT to do something that is wrong, or the right thing at the wrong time or in the wrong way.” Another way to look at this is to say that self-discipline is the accumulation of constant decisions through time (routine) and self-control is the choosing the correct thing in the moment (response). Self-discipline is leaving for work on-time, every time, stress-free. Self-control is not “brake checking” that tail-gater on your commute in!
Let’s Look At A Scenario From Class:
|The instructor is trying to explain the next drill to the class while they are seated. Student “A” is sitting properly, quietly and with focus. “B” becomes restless and begins spinning in their spot. “C” interrupts the instructor by blurting out. “D” is staring out the window at the cars. When the instructor tells the class to stand, “A” says “Yes, Sir!” with strength and quickly stands, fully ready to do the drill. Students “B” and “C” say “Yes, Sir!” but are unsure of exactly what the instructor said. Completely distracted, Student “D” remains seated. |
So which student showed self-displine? Obviously, Student A because they did the right thing, at the right time and in the right way.
For a student to get the most from our programs, it means taking class (“the right thing”), on a regular basis (“the right time”), with the intent to do your best (“the right way”). You can not expect to really enjoy and benefit from our programs and yet fail to do this simple act of self-discipline.
Self-discipline allows us and our students to extract the most value out of our time and helps us reach our goals more efficiently, inside and outside the school. It maximizes results and prevents waste (and sometimes it prevents “waist”)!
Finally, let’s re-examine the graphic above but this time without cropping the right side so we can see where self-discipline leads: