by Peter Comrie
There aren’t many options for what the “D” word might be, so I’ll just come out and say it: the “D” word is Discipline.
Some personality types love the word discipline. It conjures up visions of structure, orderliness, and everyone behaving predictably and appropriately.
For others, the word discipline is an unwanted, negative intrusion. It creates memories of control by others, punishment, and guilt and shaming.
I’d like both types of people to be open to a new definition: Discipline is a choice followed by an action that unleashes opportunity and positive growth over time.
Discipline Unleashes Growth
I’m convinced that discipline for the sake of control (either of ourselves or others) is ineffective at best, and very often harmful. Instead, let’s treat discipline as a tool to gain something valuable. All noble success stories involve discipline: working long hours to create a start-up, athletes who manage what they eat and practice no matter how they feel, parents who stand aside and allow their children to experience the struggle required to gain new skills… the list could go on and on.
In the world we live in right now, we’re starting to experience the consequences of a lack of discipline. Without the built-in accountability that came with the old way of living and working (my goodness, doesn’t February 2020 seem so long ago?), we’re losing discipline.
We don’t have built-in schedules that require showing up to work fully dressed and ready for the day. We can’t meet our workout partners or have in-person fitness challenges. Looking and feeling our best in preparation for business travels doesn’t happen anymore.
Without that discipline, growth is slowing.
Discipline Starts with Leadership
Those of us in leadership positions need to lead the way in bringing discipline into our virtual workplaces and encourage that discipline to extend into our lives. At its most effective, discipline comes from a foundation of caring for ourselves, our families, our employees, and our futures.
I want everyone in leadership to start taking better care of themselves. Each one of you matters! And taking care of yourself is important! Plus, we shouldn’t ask anything of our staff that we aren’t doing for ourselves. If we want to see more discipline, we need to show more discipline. *Remember: We’re using discipline as a tool for growth, not control.
Creating Opportunity for Discipline
We’re all getting tired of buzzwords like ‘unprecedented’ and ‘new normal’, right? So, let’s treat this as we would any unexpected, transformational change: find the opportunities. If you can’t find the opportunities, create them.
As one example, our organization has instituted a new policy: We are asking our team to work 50 minutes out of every 60 that are ‘on the clock’. Those 10 minutes are for self-care, whatever that means to each team member. They can take the breaks every hour, throughout the day, or at the beginning or end of the workday.
People are our most valuable asset. And the people in our cohort are essential to our organization. We need them. You need the people in your cohort. And we need to share what we are doing to protect our cohorts, become more disciplined, and make the most of this massive change in the world.
What do you think? How can we bring back discipline and use it for growth? Let me know your thoughts.