The social media seem to be flooded with motivational videos, quotes, pictures etc. Most of them serve their purpose and I am sure that they get a lot of people fired up, help them get out of the rut and start working harder towards their goals, whatever they may be.
But motivation alone is not enough to lead someone to his own defined success. Most people don’t fail because they don’t have the motivation or because they don’t dream big. They fail because the haven’t developed the most crucial ability, necessary to achieve any goal.
And that is discipline. Discipline forces you to stick to your decision whenever you don’t feel like giving an effort or when things are going bad for you. When its early in the morning and you are tired to get up to go to practice. When you are angry at your coach because she doesn’t play you enough or because she’s “not fair” to you and as a result you don’t give your best at each practice. When you failed time and again and you want to quit.
Discipline allows you to create strong habits that are so necessary for success. Habits that repeated daily will eventually lead you to the miracle of compounding, the accumulation of the results of your daily efforts that will lead you to your goal. For example, shooting hundred shots at the end of every practice can mean that in a month you would have shot more than a thousand shots. Think not of hundred per day but of thousands in a month!
Ultimately, success at anything is not one glorious event. Winning the championship is not about this one game, when cameras are flashing and the crowd is cheering. This is only what most people see. It’s about the whole season and the summer before that and the year before. It’s about the decision you made back then to be great, driven by motivation, but also the managing of this decision, through discipline, that forced you to do the hard work. It’s total sum of your small victories and failures and your discipline not to give up. Inconsistency, caused by lack of discipline, is the number one reason that athletes don’t reach their full potential. Working for two months and taking one of. Working hard only when they are in tough position. No discipline to stick with their plan and compound their efforts.
I can write about many athletes that I was fortunate to coach, who put in the work for years with out any significant gain or reward. Daily individual practices, sweating, grinding, lifting weights, all without any obvious progress. Coach would put them in the game for a couple of minutes, they would play bad and come right out. They got yelled at, mocked at and often they lost heart. But one day, they started shining. They started getting noticed by their coach. They were no longer the weak link in defence, a result of focus and determination in practice. They started making their shots, a result of thousands of shots taken after practice when everybody went home. They became stronger and faster, a result of countless hours of lifting tons of iron in the gym. Discipline is what made them succeed. Not motivation. They did the work when it was easy for them to stop and waited patiently and agonisingly for the result. I can also mention players that started with big statements, being at the time motivated to succeed, speaking of big goals and dreams, only to slow down and fail later. They lacked the discipline. They lacked the will. They might still have shiny careers, but they never became great. They never reached their best. And this to me, this is the definition of failure.
Tips to build up your dicipline:
Create habits that are hard to break
Once a habit is formed – good or bad – is hard to break. The first few days you ll try to stick to anything will be a struggle. Start with manageable changes and gradually build on them.
Have an accountability partner
This can be your coach (your ultimate accountability partner), your team mate, your friend etc. Listen to them and don’t let your ego get in the way when you receive criticism.
Reward yourself with every victory – Then get back to work
You deserve a pat in the back. Indulge in small victories, but don’t stay there for long. Get started again to even bigger goals.
Have no regrets
What is done in the past cannot be changed. On the other hand, your future is in your own hands. Keep looking forward no matter what happened yesterday, even when the speed of progress is slow.
Learn from your failures
No failure is final and all failures can give you great insights on what you did wrong. We learn more about our teams and performance after losses that victories. Be receptive to criticism, evaluate and then act.