‘Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment’ – Jim Rohn
Applying discipline in our lives
When you are growing up you are told to try new things. Experiment and discover. It’s a nice start and an introduction to many activities, endeavors and potential hobbies. When you turn on a computer for the first time you are exposed to the multiple ways you can achieve a desired outcome. We’re told that there are multiple ways to do things, complete tasks and accomplish goals. When we want to make changes in our lives we look for the fastest approach and are quite eager to get started. One week, two weeks, three weeks, a month, three months…
When we fall short of the goal, or don’t quite get the desired effect from the changes we seek we find excuses, blame something or someone and find a convenient exit, but many times, what is actually lacking, is discipline. Growing up I never really appreciated what that word meant. I associated it with the military, or with strict rules, a suppression of freedoms and a small minded, conservative approach to life. Because of this thinking, I didn’t really respect people who had discipline, and brushed it aside, ultimately ignoring it.
Then I started having lessons with a student who was an artist and as he told me about his work, showing me what he does, he explained how he uses one specific method in creating his art. I was like: ‘If there are so many ways of sculpting something, why don’t you use them?’ His reply was: ‘Because it takes discipline to master this method.’ I had never heard it said like that before.
As I contemplated what my student had said, I started wondering how that applied to other facets of life. After some time I realized that everything we do in our lives, to some degree, requires discipline. The way we eat, the way we live our day to day lives, how we exercise, training for a race, training to compete, learning any new skill, raising a child, taking care of your child, teaching, doing a specific task at your job and on and on.
How and Why
Instilling a certain amount of discipline is critical in everything we do. Everything. If we want to succeed we must have it. It takes discipline, to wake up every day at the same time, eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising regularly, doing your work at the highest level, smoking only 3 cigarettes a day etc. In teaching, it’s important to treat students equally, enforce the rules equally, and maintain a standard that students know is expected of them. It takes discipline to walk into our classroom and deliver the lesson that we know we are capable of, day in and day out. If we hold ourselves to the higher standard we need that discipline to maintain our performance. That’s something that people don’t appreciate with professional athletes. We just see the performance, the final result, not all the disciplined work that goes into that performance day after day behind the scenes. Professional athletes are in the spotlight only for the final act, but behind the scenes they follow a disciplined regime that would put most of us citizens to shame. Do you see the results? Is that all you see?
Those results don’t have to be on a great stage on TV. No. If you introduce a certain amount of discipline in your life, the rewards are just as powerful. If you limit the amount of meat and dairy you eat, you’ll improve your health and when you do eat either, you’ll enjoy it that much more. If you go to sleep and wake up earlier than most people and get certain tasks done because of it, you’ll be a lot more efficient and productive throughout your day, which will translate in accomplishing much more in your life. Being disciplined builds self-confidence and strengthens self-esteem so that whenever you might feel under pressure by peers you will be capable of resisting it and staying the course. That’s a big deal. Worth reflecting on, or exploring a bit more.
Instilling discipline in our classes
When we set goals, we falsely believe that it’s all about motivation. It’s not. Having the discipline to wake up every day and follow through with what needs to be done to reach those goals is the harder part and the most vital. How can our students understand the value of this? You can show them examples of what it means to be disciplined, and what it takes to maintain it. It’s a challenge no doubt. But it’s that challenge that makes us grow and be better human beings. The discipline is the challenge, not the lesson idea. Any skill will do, find a master of that skill on Youtube, or a podcast, or a reading, and present it to the students. Have questions that check not just comprehension but how this person became a master. Once they reach the answer – practice, make sure you emphasize how much practice it actually took. Hours, every day, months, weeks, years. Use an analogy so that they can try to visualize the difficulty. Should discipline be respected? Put your students to a test, and ask them to take on a skill, challenge, change of habit and if they can do it for an extended amount of time. A month? A semester? Whatever, it will be a good lesson, a life lesson, a theme that you can return to again and again throughout the school year. That’s the point, again and again.
Do you want to get out of the Matrix? So take the red pill 🙂
‘A confident mind is the product of disciplined approach…’ – K.A.Manasa