Weekly Thought – November 6, 2018
Fred learned by watching and listening to business leaders he admired. One of the common denominators of all was the consistent use of personal discipline. In mentoring high achievers throughout his life he recognized the necessity of healthy habits. In the family he “encouraged” the children to persevere by quoting the poet’s line: “When nothing but the will says go.”
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Importance of Discipline
Let’s recognize the difference between punishment and discipline. Many people use the words interchangeably, but punishment is what happens when discipline fails.
For years I have observed the importance of discipline in a person’s area of expertise. Many, particularly in performance, live undisciplined lives but are very rigorous about their art. They compartmentalize their strong habits.
In a documentary about famous tenor Pavarotti, it is interesting to see how perfectionistic he is in his artistry, yet totally unregulated in his eating. Having been known as Fat Fred for decades in years past, I understand being calorically-challenged. I found the disconnect between other disciplines in my life and my love of eating. Exercising physical discipline helped me create continuity.
A film on Elvis Presley pointed out the discrepancy between the high level of discipline in his professional and private lives. A friend who was familiar with his work habits told me how Elvis would sit at the piano working on his phrasing hour by hour until it was exactly right. Even such geniuses as Ernest Hemingway who lived a dissolute and destructive life said, “Every morning at 8:00 I bite the nail.”
Bishop Fulton Sheen spoke to a parish priests’ retreat. During his discussion on impact he made the comment: “People listen when I talk. It is because everyday since entering the priesthood I have spent one hour with my Lord. Even when I only had two hours of sleep, I walked the floor and prayed for one hour.” He felt this spiritual discipline gave him power.
Unfortunately, there are people of superior talent who will not submit to discipline. The result is the lack of fulfillment and full development of their potential. For example, I knew a young man with great running ability. In high school he ran so fast he literally ran through the curves on the track. Coaches saw his world class speed and expected to see a future Olympian. He refused to discipline his talent and leaned just on his natural ability. When that wasn’t enough, he stopped running. He even lost his college scholarship. Failure wasn’t lack of talent, but lack of “paying the price.”
As a young man I discovered a simple formula which has contributed to my progress. The secret of a discipline life is building strong habits which then form positive reflexes which are the foundation of healthy living and success. When discipline becomes the normal pattern, the full use of potential and productivity is possible.
This week think about: 1) Where are my areas of strongest discipline? 2) Who can I encourage to build healthy habits? 3) What has been the most satisfying reward of exercising discipline?
Words of Wisdom: “Punishment is what happens when discipline fails.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Acquire truth and do not sell it— wisdom, and discipline, and understanding.” (Proverbs 23:23 NET Bible)