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My friend Kevin is one of the smartest people I know, hands down. Nobody even comes close.
I went to a pretty good, highly ranked university in California. In my close circle of friends, Kevin outshone everybody else. It's as if he can figure out complicated math equations at the back of his head.
In fact, one time, we were talking about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle while eating pizza. There I was, completely stumped about this theory, and my friend Kevin broke it down in between bites of a slice pizza. That's how brilliant he was and still is.
Kevin was so sharp that he only needed to show up in class once, and that is to take roll so that the professor doesn't drop him on the first day, and he’d refuse to go to the class ever again. When exam time rolls around, you can count on Kevin to get at least an A. He did this like clockwork.
In fact, in many cases, he got awards and honors and he didn't even have to show up for the lectures. I remember laughing when he asked me for any notes that I had for a class he completely ditched. I was laughing because I thought that he was just wasting his time. How can this guy ever pass, much less get an A, when he didn't even bother to show up?
Boy, was I surprised when the guy got better grades than I did. And he didn't cheat. That's how talented Kevin was and still is.
But Kevin, just like most people, has a weakness. We all have our own peculiar and particular shortcoming. It comes with the territory. Kevin is no exception.
His problem was self-discipline. He had a Ferrari engine, but he did not want to drive it in a disciplined, methodical and systematic way.
Now, he is twice divorced, living in an apartment whose rent he could barely afford, and constantly drinking his problems away.
When I think about the life of my friend Kevin, I not only focus on the missed opportunities for career advancement and accomplishments that he is otherwise capable of achieving, I also think about the rest of us. I think about how we missed out because he did not get his act together to fully unlock his potential so the rest of society could benefit from his genius.
Kevin could have been the next dotcom billionaire. He could have been the next Web 2.0 genius that revolutionized technology. But there he is, in the San Francisco Bay Area, struggling to get by on what essentially is a minimum wage.
What's going on? How can somebody with so much potential end up with so little?
It turns out that self-discipline is not a neat little trait that we can choose to have. It is THE trait for ultimate success. Without self-discipline, everything else falls apart.
You may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, and that’s okay. As long as you are self-disciplined enough to figure out what you need to learn so you can achieve a little bit more tomorrow, eventually, you'll get there.
Self-discipline is crucial because there are so many distractions trying to divert our attention from what's important and what is truly worthy.
You have to understand that life is full of rewards. But the problem is, the biggest rewards that life has to offer are only attained through a long, sustained period of focused effort.
Discipline is crucial for everything in our lives.
This book gives you a practical framework on how to practice and develop self-discipline so you can become more successful in all areas of your life. It helps you develop a new mindset so you no longer have to continue to struggle.
Eventually, you will reach a point that things seem to magically fall into place. It's not because there is actual magic involved, but because you are so disciplined that opportunities come to you and things start to flow.
You can achieve this state, but the price is high and the journey is long. Are you willing to take that journey?
There are many definitions of self-discipline, but I prefer one supplied by the American philosopher and writer Elbert Hubbard. He said self-discipline is "the ability to do what you have to do when you have to do it, whether you feel like it or not."
Self-discipline is a crucial life skill that enables you to succeed in anything you choose to do. Again, this doesn't necessarily have to do with money. These can involve your relationships. This can also involve your health.
As you probably already know, if you're like most Americans, losing weight is no joke. It requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline because hey, let's face it, when given a choice, we'd rather eat pizza. We'd rather chomp down on a burger or enjoy some fried chicken. But it takes a lot of discipline to eat salad day after day.
Self-Discipline Enables you to Focus
When you are self-disciplined, you learn how to keep your focus trained on your priorities. You decide on your goals and you prioritize what the most important thing is on a day to day basis.
Once you're able to do that, your self-discipline then kicks in and you're able to zero in on that day after day. Your thoughts, your words, and your actions flow towards that goal.
Of course, you're doing many other things, but there is a recurring theme in your life. There's this consistent focus. You're not just spinning your wheels or chasing your tail.
There is a point to your day because, at the back of your mind, you're inching one step closer to that grand accomplishment. This requires training. It also requires the ability to say no to shallow temptations and shortcuts.
There are plenty of those. In fact, there are too many. When you instead choose to focus on the big picture and take care of the things that you need to focus on, every action you take and every day you spend brings you closer and closer to the desired outcome.
Now, this doesn't mean that your journey is going to be faster. This definitely doesn't mean that your journey will be smooth or everything would be easy.
In fact, when you're working towards a big goal, there are almost always challenges you didn't anticipate. It's as if life is throwing you one curve ball after another.
But, interestingly enough, when you are disciplined, you find it in you to solve those problems and overcome those setbacks as they appear. They don't knock you out. They don't make you quit. They don't rob you of your resolve.
They don't do any of that. Instead, you find it in you to put one foot in front of the other as you move towards that ultimate victory. That is self-discipline.
It's not sexy, and it's not overly dramatic. This is not the movies. It's not like you have all this conspiracy of people working against you and there are all sorts of thrills, chills and spills along the way. No.
In most cases, a personal journey of self-discipline involves doing the same thing over and over again, every day. It's drudgery. There's nothing sexy about it at all.
But your character is changing with each step. You become stronger and stronger as you turn down one temptation after another.
Eventually, you will reach a point where you're saying, "Why am I doing this? There are so many other easier things I can do. There are always that other shortcuts that I could have taken. Why am I doing this?"
You have to find the "why." In other words, you have to find the purpose. Otherwise, it's going to be hard to take that next step.
Self-Discipline isn't as Hard as You Think
Self-discipline actually isn't as difficult as most people assume. Now, I'm not saying that it's easy. What's important is to understand that it has two phases.
In the first phase, you don't know what you're doing. The task that you're trying to be disciplined at is new to you. It's very challenging at this phase. You're trying to figure things out.
But once you get used to it, there is a tipping point where it becomes easier and easier. You do achieve a point of momentum. The key is to get there.
Once you have fully adjusted, self-discipline actually becomes so easy. Why? It has become a habit. It's almost automatic.